When misery avoids company: Selective social comparisons to photographic online profiles

Benjamin K. Johnson*, Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Social networking site usage may affect subjective well-being. Two experiments examined how selective exposure to profiles of other users facilitated mood management via self-enhancing social comparisons. In Study 1, when given detailed impression management cues, such as photographs and status updates, users in a negative mood sought upward rather than downward social comparisons. Study 2 found that relatively low levels of group identification with the social networking site community led to upward social comparisons by users in a negative mood. High group identifiers spent more time viewing upward comparisons, regardless of mood. Regarding exposure effects, upward social comparisons to profiles improved subsequent mood when the comparison involved career success. High group identifiers experienced greater positive mood following upward social comparisons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-75
Number of pages22
JournalHuman Communication Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Mood Management
  • Online Cues
  • Selective Exposure
  • Social Comparison
  • Social Networking Site

Cite this