Social networking sites (SNS) provide opportunities for mood management through selective exposure. This study tested the prediction that negative mood fosters self-enhancing social comparisons to SNS profiles. Participants were induced into positive or negative moods and then browsed manipulated profiles on an experimental SNS. Profiles varied in a 2 × 2 within-subjects design along two dimensions, ratings of career success and attractiveness, allowing for upward comparisons (high ratings) and downward comparisons (low ratings). Selective exposure was measured in seconds spent viewing profiles. Negative mood led to less exposure to upward comparisons and more to downward comparisons than positive mood. The comparison dimension did not influence selective exposure. Thus, in a negative mood, SNS users prefer self-enhancing social comparisons to manage their mood.
Johnson, B. K., & Knobloch-Westerwick, S. (2014). Glancing up or down: Mood management and selective social comparisons on social networking sites. Computers in Human Behavior, 41, 33-39. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.09.009