Unique associations of social media use and online appearance preoccupation with depression, anxiety, and appearance rejection sensitivity

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Hawes, Tanya
Zimmer-Gembeck, Melanie J
Campbell, Shawna M
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2020
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Abstract

Social media (SM) can create a climate of social comparison and preoccupation with appearance, which can pose risks for emotional problems, such as depression and social anxiety. In this study, 763 adolescents and young adults reported time spent and intensity of social media use and preoccupation with both general and appearance-related (AR) social media activities and content. Associations were investigated with markers of depression and social anxiety symptoms and appearance sensitivities – appearance anxiety and appearance rejection sensitivity (appearance-RS). Social media use was positively associated with symptoms of depression, social anxiety, appearance anxiety, and appearance-RS. General and AR preoccupation had unique and positive associations with depression and social anxiety symptoms and with appearance sensitivities. AR preoccupation was also found to strengthen the relationship between time spent on social media and appearance-RS. Although there were gender differences on all measures, with young women scoring higher on all measures, there was no evidence that gender moderated the effects of AR social media preoccupation. Findings support emerging evidence that social media engagement and behavior, particularly activities involving appearance comparisons and judgements, may be more of a risk to depression and social anxiety symptoms and appearance sensitivities than simply the frequency of social media use.

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Body Image
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33
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Subject
Biomedical and clinical sciences
Human society
Psychology
Public health
Sociology
Social and personality psychology
Social Sciences
Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Psychology, Clinical
Psychiatry
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Hawes, T; Zimmer-Gembeck, MJ; Campbell, SM, Unique associations of social media use and online appearance preoccupation with depression, anxiety, and appearance rejection sensitivity, Body Image, 2020, 33, pp. 66-76
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