The use of social networking sites has enabled users to access the lives of others online. For long, the extensive use of social media was found to lead to negative subjective well-being, as comparing oneself with others have become easier with the existence of various social networking sites. Several aspects of social media have affected on an individual’s well-being, including as well, the contents users are exposed to. By using the stimulus-organism-response method, this study explores the effects of images with content characteristics such as single-person photo, group photo, object photo, portraits of family, career and money, on an individual’s social comparison and subjective well-being, leading to a possible behavioral response in intended posting behavior. To analyze the effects, a quantitative method approach was implemented using an experimental survey approach with the sample of Indonesian male Instagram users. Results showed that visual cues with a single-person photo have more effect on social comparison compared to the other visual cues and masculinity traits. Although a single-person photo is found to have more influence on social comparison, the group photos have a higher likelihood to be shared online. Whilst masculinity trait did not have much influence on social comparison, when it came to posting intention and posting frequency, masculinity traits of family and career seem to have more likeliness to be shared. Whereas traits portraying money had the least interest to be shared, even though contents that portray money is the most common image seen online. When taking into account the psychological state of the individual, those who engage in social comparison will likely have a lower satisfaction towards life. Furthermore, one’s satisfaction towards life does not influence posting frequency, only the affective aspect of the individual influences the intended posting frequency, meaning, the happier the individual the more often they would share certain content online. Thus, it can be concluded that specific types of content influences social comparison more than others, however, although not all content influences social comparison, some can be considered as an inspiration as participants find they would likely to post something similar.

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Dr. Lijie Zheng
Media, Culture & Society
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Bella Octavina. (2021, June 30). Are you inspired or desirous of others on social media? The influence of content characteristics with visual cues and masculinity traits towards social comparison, subjective well-being and intended posting behavior.. Media, Culture & Society. Retrieved from