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Acta Psychologica Sinica
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The impact of social network site (Qzone) on adolescents’ depression: The serial mediation of upward social comparison and self-esteem
NIU Gengfeng; SUN Xiaojun; ZHOU Zongkui; KONG Fanchang; TIAN Yuan
(Key Laboratory of Adolescent Cyberpsychology and Behavior (CCNU), Ministry of Education; School of Psychology, Central China Normal University, Wuhan 430079, China)
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Abstract  

With the rapid rise and increasing popularity all over the world, social network site (SNS) has become an important platform for interpersonal interaction, especially among adolescents. The impact of SNS use has become the focus of relevant studies. Empirical evidence has suggested a complex mechanism in the relationship between SNS use and psychological adaptions. In particular, SNS offers abundant opportunities for social comparison with detailed information about others. Besides, users tend to present an idealized version of the self on SNS. Therefore, the majority of the social comparative information that individuals receive on SNS may lean in upward comparison, which may cause people to feel inadequate, and have poorer self-evaluations and low self-esteem. The social rank theory of depression claimed that the feeling of subordination was the mechanism that can trigger depression. The vulnerability model of depression also stated that low self-esteem might cause the onset and maintenance of depression. Since depression is a common psychological problem for adolescents, this study aimed to investigate the effect of SNS (Qzone, which is the most popular SNS among Chinese adolescents) use on depression as well as its mechanism. We hypothesized that upward social comparison on SNS and self-esteem may mediate the relationship between SNS use and depression. A sample of 964 adolescents (mean age = 14.23 years, SD = 1.27) were recruited for the study. They were required to complete a battery of questionnaires, including Intensity of SNS use Scale, Upward Social Comparison Measure on SNS, Rosenberg Self-esteem scale and Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Based on the social comparison theory and the vulnerability model of depression, a multiple mediation model was constructed to analyze the mediating effects of upward social comparison on SNS and self-esteem in the association between SNS use and depression. The data were analyzed by the Mplus 7.0. Results indicated that: (1) After controlling for gender, age, and years of SNS use, SNS use was positively correlated with upward social comparison on SNS and depression, while negatively correlated with self-esteem; upward social comparison on SNS was positively correlated with depression, while negatively correlated with self-esteem; and self-esteem was negatively correlated with depression. (2) Mediation analysis revealed that SNS use could affect depression through the mediation of upward social comparison on SNS and self-esteem. The mediation effect contained two paths, the separate mediation effect of upward social comparison, and the serial mediation effect of upward social comparison and self-esteem. In summary, this study uncovered the mechanism underlying the relationship between SNS use and depression, which contributes to the understanding of the complex mechanism between SNS use and its outcomes. Furthermore, our findings suggest that the upward social comparison induced by SNS may be one of the key factors in the aforementioned relationship between SNS use and depression. Future studies should investigate the effect of SNS in a more comprehensive and objective manner, paying attention to the potential risk of SNS use, as well as the specific experience and feelings on SNS.

Keywords social networking site      upward social comparison      self-esteem      depression      adolescents     
Corresponding Authors: ZHOU Zongkui, E-mail: zhouzk@mail.ccnu.edu.cn   
Issue Date: 25 October 2016
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NIU Gengfeng
SUN Xiaojun
ZHOU Zongkui
KONG Fanchang
TIAN Yuan
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NIU Gengfeng,SUN Xiaojun,ZHOU Zongkui, et al. The impact of social network site (Qzone) on adolescents’ depression: The serial mediation of upward social comparison and self-esteem[J]. Acta Psychologica Sinica, 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.01282
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http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/10.3724/SP.J.1041.2016.01282     OR     http://journal.psych.ac.cn/xlxb/EN/Y2016/V48/I10/1282
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