460 Likes and Life Purpose

Burrow, Anthony L., & Rainone, Nicolette (2017). How many likes did I get?: Purpose moderates links between positive social media feedback and self-esteem. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 69, 232–236. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2016.09.005

Written by Robin N. Fatovic M.S.

How do you feel when you get a “like” on social media?

Human development researchers studied the impact of Facebook “likes” on self-esteem. In one study, 300 adult participants with fewer than 200 likes on their pictures completed surveys about their wellbeing. In the second study, the researchers told 100 college students that they would pilot a new social media site. After posting a selfie, the researchers randomly told participants that they got an average, lower than average, or higher than average amount of likes on it.

Results? In both studies, people who received or believed to receive more likes had better self-esteem. The studies also showed that the number of likes impacted self-esteem more for people who felt like they had less purpose in life. However, the number of likes did not impact self-esteem when people believed they had a purpose.

What matters to you? Family, friends, education, your goals? Think about what brings you meaning in life, and the role you play in bringing meaning to others’ lives. This change in perspective shows how “likes” are just one small part of the bigger picture of life. You are important, with or without social media likes!

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