Instagram selfie-posting and young women’s body dissatisfaction: Investigating the role of self-esteem and need for popularity



An online survey was conducted to explore how Instagram users’ selfie-posting behavior affects their self-esteem and body dissatisfaction. Female college students from South Korea (N = 321) participated in the survey. Results showed that Instagram users’ selfie-posting was positively related to their self-esteem. Moreover, Instagram users’ self-esteem mediated the relationship between their selfie-posting behavior and body dissatisfaction. Findings showed that Instagram users’ selfie-posting behavior may positively influence their self-esteem, which may consequently contribute to reducing their body dissatisfaction. Such an indirect effect of selfie-posting was moderated by Instagram users’ levels of the need for popularity. The indirect influence of selfie-posting on body dissatisfaction through self-esteem was only significant among those with low or moderate levels of the need for popularity. This suggests that those with lower levels of the need for popularity can benefit more from posting their selfies. These findings advance the emerging literature on the effects of selfie-posting by providing a moderated mediation model of selfie-posting and body image concerns.

Selfie-posting; body dissatisfaction; self-esteem; need for popularity; Instagram

Bem, D. (1972). Self-perception theory. In L. Berkowitz (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 6, pp. 2–57). Academic Press.

Bergman, S. M., Fearrington, M. E., Davenport, S. W., & Bergman, J. Z. (2011). Millennials, narcissism, and social networking: What narcissists do on social networking sites and why. Personality and Individual Differences, 50(5), 706–711.

Burrow, A. L., & Rainone, N. (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.

Butkowski, C. P., Dixon, T. L. & Weeks, K. (2019). Body surveillance on Instagram: Examining the role of selfie feedback investment in young adult women’s body image concerns. Sex Roles, 81(5–6), 385–397.

Chae, J. (2017). Virtual makeover: Selfie-taking and social media use increase selfie editing frequency through social comparison. Computers in Human Behavior, 66, 370–376.

Chang, L., Li, P., Loh, R. S. M., & Chua, T. H. H., (2019). A study of Singapore adolescent girls’ selfie practices, peer appearance comparisons, and body esteem on Instagram. Body Image, 29, 90–99.

Christofides, E., Muise, A., & Desmarais, S. (2009). Information disclosure and control on Facebook: Are they two sides of the same coin or two different processes? CyberPsychology & Behavior, 12(3), 341-345.

Chua, T. H. H., & Chang, L. (2016). Follow me and like my beautiful selfies: Singapore teenage girls’ engagement in self-presentation and peer comparison on social media. Computers in Human Behavior, 55(Part A), 190–197.

Cohen, R., Newton-John, T., & Slater, A. (2018). ‘Selfie’-objectification: The role of selfies in self-objectification and disordered eating in young women. Computers in Human Behavior, 79, 68–74.

Dhir, A., Pallesen, S., Torsheim, T., & Andreassen, C. S., (2016). Do age and gender differences exist in selfie-related behaviours? Computers in Human Behavior, 63, 549–555.

Downs, D. M., James, S., & Cowan, G. (2006). Body objectification, self-esteem, and relationship satisfaction: A comparison of exotic dancers and college women. Sex Roles, 54(11–12), 745–752.

Fardouly, J., & Rapee, R. M. (2019). The impact of no-makeup selfies on young women’s body image. Body Image, 28, 128–134.

Fardouly, J., Willburger. B. K., & Vartanian. L. R. (2018). Instagram use and young women’s body image concerns and self-objectification: Testing mediational pathways. New Media & Society, 20(4), 1380–1395.

Fingeret, M. C., & Gleaves, D. H. (2004). Sociocultural, feminist, and psychological influences on women’s body satisfaction: A structural modeling analysis. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 28(4), 370–380.

Fitch, G. (1970). Effects of self-esteem, perceived performance, and choice on causal attributions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 16(2), 311–315.

Fox, J., & Vendemia, M. A. (2016). Selective self-presentation and social comparison through photographs on social networking sites. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19(10), 593–600.

Frison, E., & Eggermont, S. (2017). Browsing, posting, and liking on Instagram: The reciprocal relationships between different types of Instagram use and adolescents’ depressed mood. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 20(10), 603–609.

Garner, D. M., Olmstead, M. P., & Polivy, J. (1983). Development and validation of a multidimensional eating disorder inventory for anorexia nervosa and bulimia. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 2(2), 15–34.<15::AID-EAT2260020203>3.0.CO;2-6

Gibbs, J. L., Ellison, N. B., Heino, R. D. (2006). Self-presentation in online personals: The role of anticipated future interaction, self-disclosure, and perceived success in Internet dating. Communication Research, 33(2),152–177.

Haferkamp, N., & Krämer, N. C. (2011). Social comparison 2.0: Examining the effects of online profiles on social-networking sites. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14(5), 309–314.

Halpern, D., Katz, J. E. & Carril, C. (2017). The online ideal persona vs. the jealousy effect: Two explanations of why selfies are associated with lower-quality romantic relationships. Telematics and Informatics, 34(1), 114–123.

Hancock, J. T., & Toma, C. L. (2009). Putting your best face forward: The accuracy of online dating photographs. Journal of Communication, 59(2), 367–386.

Hayes, A. F. (2013). Introduction to mediation, moderation, and conditional process analysis: A regression-based approach. Guilford Press.

Hesse, B. W., Werner, C. M., & Altman, I. (1988). Temporal aspects of computer-mediated communication. Computers in Human Behavior, 4(2), 147–165.

Jin, S. V., & Muqaddam, A. (2018). “Narcissism 2.0! Would narcissists follow fellow narcissists on Instagram?” the mediating effects of narcissists personality similarity and envy, and the moderating effects of popularity. Computers in Human Behavior, 81, 31–41.

Kelly, A. E., & Rodriguez, R. R. (2006). Publicly committing oneself to an identity. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 28(2), 185–191.

Kim, J., & Lee, J.-E. R., (2011). The Facebook paths to happiness: Effects of the number of Facebook friends and self-presentation on subjective well-being. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, & Social Networking, 14(6), 359–364.

Kim, J. W., & Chock, T. M. (2017). Personality traits and psychological motivations predicting selfie posting behaviors on social networking sites. Telematics and Informatics, 34(5), 560–571.

Kim, Y., & Baek, Y. M. (2014). When is selective self-presentation effective? An investigation of the moderation effects of ‘‘self-esteem’’ and ‘‘social trust.” Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(11), 697–701.

Korea Press Foundation. (2019). 언론 수용자 조사 [Media users in Korea 2019].

Manago, A. M., Graham, M. B., Greenfield, P. M., Salimkhan, G. (2008). Self-presentation and gender on MySpace. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 29(6), 446–458.

Mascheroni, G., Vincent, J., & Jimenez, E. (2015). “Girls are addicted to likes so they post semi-naked selfies”: Peer mediation, normativity and the construction of identity online. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 9(1), Article 5.

Mendelson, A. L., & Papacharissi, Z. (2010). Look at us: Collective narcissism in college student Facebook photo galleries. In Papacharissi, Z. (Ed.), The Networked Self: Identity, Community and Culture on Social Network Sites (pp. 251–273). Routledge.

Mercurio, A. E., & Landry, L. J. (2008). Self-objectification and wellbeing: The impact of self-objectification on women’s overall sense of self-worth and life satisfaction. Sex Roles, 58(7–8), 458–466.

Mills, J. S., Musto, S., Williams, L., & Tiggemann, M. (2018). “Selfie” harm: Effects on mood and body image in young women. Body Image, 27, 86–92.

Neighbors, L. A., & Sobal, J. (2007). Prevalence and magnitude of body weight and shape dissatisfaction among university students. Eating Behaviors, 8(4), 429–439.

Paxton, S. J., Eisenberg, M. E., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2006). Prospective predictors of body dissatisfaction in adolescent girls and boys: A five-year longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 42(5), 888–899.

Ridgway, J. L., & Clayton, R. B. (2016). Instagram unfiltered: Exploring associations of body image satisfaction, Instagram #selfie posting, and negative romantic relationship outcomes. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19(1), 2–7.

Rosenberg, M. (1965). Society and the adolescent self-image. Princeton University Press.

Santor, D. A., Messervey, D., & Kusumakar, V. (2000). Measuring peer pressure, popularity, and conformity in adolescent boys and girls: Predicting school performance, sexual attitudes, and substance abuse. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 29(2), 163–182.

Schlenker, B. R., Dlugolecki, D. W., & Doherty, K. (1994). The impact of self-presentations on self-appraisals and behavior: The power of public commitment. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 20(1), 20–33.

Siibak, A. (2009). Constructing the self through the photo selection – Visual impression management on social networking websites. Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace, 3(1), Article 1.

Sorokowska, A., Oleszkiewicz, A., Frackowiak, T., Pisanski, K., Chmiel, A., & Sorokowski, P. (2016). Selfies and personality: Who posts self-portrait photographs? Personality and Individual Differences, 90, 119–123.

Taylor, P. (2014, March 4). More than half of Millennials have shared a ‘selfie’. Pew Research Center: Fact Tank.

Taylor, S. E., & Armor, D. A. (1996). Positive illusions and coping with adversity. Journal of Personality, 64(4), 873–898.

Taylor, S. E., & Brown, J. D. (1988). Illusion and well-being: A social psychological perspective on mental health. Psychological Bulletin, 103(2), 193–210.

Tiggemann, M., Anderberg, I., & Brown, Z. (2020). Uploading your best self: Selfie editing and body dissatisfaction. Body Image, 33, 175–182.

Tiggemann, M., & Miller, J. (2010). The Internet and adolescent girls' weight satisfaction and drive for thinness. Sex Roles, 63(1–2), 79–90.

Toma, C. L. (2013). Feeling better but doing worse: Effects of Facebook self-presentation on implicit self-esteem and cognitive task performance. Media Psychology, 16(2), 199–220.

Toma, C. L., & Hancock, J. T. (2010). Looks and lies: The role of physical attractiveness in online dating self-presentation and deception. Communication Research, 37(3), 335–351.

Toma, C. L., & Hancock, J. T. (2013). Self-affirmation underlies Facebook use. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 39(3), 321–331.

Tylka, T. L., & Sabik, N. J. (2010). Integrating social comparison theory and self-esteem within objectification theory to predict women’s disordered eating. Sex Roles, 63(1–2), 18–31.

Utz, S., & Beukeboom, C. J. (2011). The role of social network sites in romantic relationships: Effects on jealousy and relationship happiness. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 16(4), 511–527.

Utz, S., Tanis, M., & Vermeulen, I. (2012). It is all about being popular: The effects of need for popularity on social network site use. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 15(1), 37–42.

van den Berg, P., Paxton, S. J., Keery, H., Wall, M., Guo, J., & Neumark-Sztainer, D. (2007). Body dissatisfaction and body comparison with media images in males and females. Body Image, 4(3), 257–268.

Vendemia, M. A., & DeAndrea, D. C. (2018). The effects of viewing thin, sexualized selfies on Instagram: Investigating the role of image sources and awareness of photo editing practices. Body Image, 27, 118–127.

Walther, J. B. (1996). Computer-mediated communication: Impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction. Communication Research, 23(1), 3–44.

Wang, R., Yang, F., & Haigh, M. M. (2017). Let me take a selfie: Exploring the psychological effects of posting and viewing selfies and groupies on social media. Telematics and Informatics, 34(4), 274–283.

Wang, Y., Fardouly, J., Vartanian, L. R., & Lei, L. (2019). Selfie-viewing and facial dissatisfaction among Chinese adolescents: A moderated mediation model of general attractiveness internalization and body appreciation. Body Image, 30, 35–43.

World Health Organization. (2006). Global database on Body Mass Index.

Yang, C. (2016). Instagram use, loneliness, and social comparison orientation: Interact and browse on social media, but don't compare. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 19(12), 703–708.

Yang, J., Fardouly, J., Wang, Y., & Shi, W. (2020). Selfie-viewing and facial dissatisfaction among emerging adults: A moderated mediation model of appearance comparisons and self-objectification. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(2), Article 672,

Zhao, S., Grasmuck, S., Martin, J. (2008). Identity construction on Facebook: Digital empowerment in anchored relationships. Computers in Human Behavior, 24(5),1816–1836.

Zywica, J., & Danowski, J. (2008). The faces of Facebookers: Investigating social enhancement and social compensation hypotheses; predicting Facebook and offline popularity from sociability and self-esteem, and mapping the meanings of popularity with semantic networks. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 14(1), 1–34.





PDF views