Country Differences in Social Comparison on Social Media

8480b47e733a040fba07c32da414b0e0?s=47 Justin Cheng
October 21, 2020

Country Differences in Social Comparison on Social Media

Social comparison is a common focus in discussions of online social media use, and differences in its frequency, causes, and outcomes may arise from country or cultural differences. To understand how these differences play a role in experiences of social comparison on Facebook, a survey of 37,729 people across 18 countries was paired with respondents' activity on Facebook. The findings were augmented with 39 in-person interviews in three countries. Social comparison frequency was more strongly predicted by country than by age, gender, and Facebook activity combined, indicating that country differences are important to consider when studying social comparison. Women's and men's experiences differed greatly between countries. Exposure to high feedback counts on friends' posts was associated with more frequent social comparison, but only in some countries. Design interventions that account for such country differences may be more effective at reducing the negative outcomes of social comparison.

Presented at CSCW 2020

8480b47e733a040fba07c32da414b0e0?s=128

Justin Cheng

October 21, 2020
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  1. Justin Cheng, Moira Burke, and Bethany de Gant Country Differences

    in Social Comparison on Social Media
  2. Social comparison occurs whenever people compare themselves to others. Festinger

    1956 · Suls, et al. 2002
  3. Social comparison is a common concern when using social media.

    Chou & Edge, 2012 · Vogel, et al. 2014 · etc.
  4. Social comparison has been linked to negative (and positive) outcomes.

    Wood 1989 · Suls, et al. 2002 · Buunk & Gibbons 2006 · Vogel, et al. 2015 · Scherr, et al. 2018 · etc.
  5. Small-scale, offline studies suggest that global differences in social comparison

    exist. Gibbons & Buunk 1999 · Guimond, et al. 2007 · Krizan & Gibbons 2014 Previous work
  6. Understanding the relationship between social comparison and country differences. This

    work
  7. Survey + Interviews + FB Activity Logs Method

  8. Survey + Interviews + FB Activity Logs Method 37,729 people

    from 18 countries Brazil, Germany, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Norway, Philippines, Sweden, Singapore, Thailand, Turkey, the United States, and Vietnam
  9. Survey + Interviews + FB Activity Logs Method 39 in-person

    interviews in 3 countries India (highest comparison) United States (moderate comparison) Mexico (lowest comparison)
  10. Survey + Interviews + FB Activity Logs Method Demographics Engagement

    measures
  11. Social comparison was measured using a four-question scale. Cronbach’s ɑ

    = 0.75 Method Q1. On Facebook, how often do you observe what other people are doing to decide how you should act?
  12. Social comparison was measured using a four-question scale. Cronbach’s ɑ

    = 0.75 Method Q2. On Facebook, how often do you compare your own accomplishments to the accomplishments of other people?
  13. Social comparison was measured using a four-question scale. Cronbach’s ɑ

    = 0.75 Method Q3. On Facebook, how often do you think about how you present yourself to other people?
  14. Social comparison was measured using a four-question scale. Cronbach’s ɑ

    = 0.75 Method Q4. On Facebook, how often do you feel worse about yourself after comparing yourself to someone else?
  15. Social Comparison × Country Social Comparison × Country × Gender

    Social Comparison × Country × Like Counts Results
  16. Social Comparison × Country Social Comparison × Country × Gender

    Social Comparison × Country × Like Counts Results
  17. 4.4% 7.6% 11% 0.0% 2.5% 5.0% 7.5% 10.0% Age, gender,

    friend count, and time spent Country Combined Variance in social comparison explained Country was a more important predictor of social comparison than other demographic variables.
  18. 2.29 1.8 2.13 2.05 2.38 2.52 2.71 2 2.14 1.96

    2.34 2.7 2.25 2.46 2.59 2.25 2.3 2.71 Germany Mexico Japan France Denmark Korea Turkey Sweden Brazil United States Norway United Kingdom Singapore Indonesia Thailand Philippines India Vietnam Never Rarely Sometimes Social comparison frequency Social comparison on Facebook Social comparison varies substantially by country.
  19. 2.29 1.8 2.13 2.05 2.38 2.52 2.71 2 2.14 1.96

    2.34 2.7 2.25 2.46 2.59 2.25 2.3 2.71 Germany Mexico Japan France Denmark Korea Turkey Sweden Brazil United States Norway United Kingdom Singapore Indonesia Thailand Philippines India Vietnam Never Rarely Sometimes Social comparison frequency Social comparison on Facebook Social comparison varies substantially by country.
  20. Social Comparison × Country Social Comparison × Country × Gender

    Social Comparison × Country × Like Counts Results
  21. Men feel more comparison Women feel more comparison Germany Mexico

    Japan France Denmark Korea Turkey Sweden Brazil United States Norway United Kingdom Singapore Indonesia Thailand Philippines India Vietnam −0.4 −0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 Combined population and group effect Gender and social comparison The relationship between gender and social comparison frequency differs by country. See paper for methodological details.
  22. Men feel more comparison Women feel more comparison Germany Mexico

    Japan France Denmark Korea Turkey Sweden Brazil United States Norway United Kingdom Singapore Indonesia Thailand Philippines India Vietnam −0.4 −0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 Combined population and group effect Gender and social comparison The relationship between gender and social comparison frequency differs by country. See paper for methodological details.
  23. Men feel more comparison Women feel more comparison Germany Mexico

    Japan France Denmark Korea Turkey Sweden Brazil United States Norway United Kingdom Singapore Indonesia Thailand Philippines India Vietnam −0.4 −0.2 0.0 0.2 0.4 Combined population and group effect Gender and social comparison The relationship between gender and social comparison frequency differs by country. See paper for methodological details.
  24. “ Men in India may experience more pressure than women

    to provide for their families. My wife sees things on Facebook that make her feel like our lifestyle isn’t good enough. It ruins the whole mood in my house... I feel like I’m not good enough. It makes me hate myself… Male, 35-44, India
  25. Brazil Germany Denmark France United Kingdom Indonesia India Japan Korea

    Mexico Norway Philippines Sweden Singapore Thailand Turkey United States Vietnam Men feel more comparison Women feel more comparison 20 30 40 50 60 −0.3 −0.2 −0.1 0.0 0.1 0.2 Social comparison differences between men and women % women in the labor force Gender differences in social comparison and the proportion of women in the labor force Social comparison is more frequent among women in countries where women make up more of the labor force.
  26. Social Comparison × Country Social Comparison × Country × Gender

    Social Comparison × Country × Like Counts Results
  27. Likes lower comparison Likes increase comparison Germany Mexico Japan France

    Denmark Korea Turkey Sweden Brazil United States Norway United Kingdom Singapore Indonesia Thailand Philippines India Vietnam −0.1 0.0 0.1 0.2 Combined population and group effect Likes/reactions and social comparison Seeing more posts with 20+ Likes or Reactions was associated with more frequent social comparison in all countries. See paper for methodological details.
  28. Likes lower comparison Likes increase comparison Germany Mexico Japan France

    Denmark Korea Turkey Sweden Brazil United States Norway United Kingdom Singapore Indonesia Thailand Philippines India Vietnam −0.1 0.0 0.1 0.2 Combined population and group effect Likes/reactions and social comparison Seeing more posts with 20+ Likes or Reactions was associated with more frequent social comparison in all countries. See paper for methodological details.
  29. “ In India and the US, people talked about how

    Likes elicited negative feelings. I’m happy for people when I see lots of likes on their posts, but at the same time, it makes me feel inferior to them. Female, 25-34, US
  30. “ In Mexico, people said they were less affected by

    Like counts. Well, I know that she has a big family, so I just think that there are more people who are able to see the posts she makes. Female, 25-34, Mexico
  31. What do these findings suggest? Discussion

  32. Designs intended to mitigate social comparison in one region may

    not work in another.
  33. Reducing the visibility of feedback counts could be helpful.

  34. Country differences play a significant role in how social media

    affects experiences of social comparison. Conclusion
  35. Why do country differences in social comparison exist? What’s the

    relationship between country and age? How about with viewing profiles? What do these results tell us about cultural differences? Are there within-country differences? Also in the paper…
  36. Justin Cheng, Moira Burke, and Bethany de Gant Country Differences

    in Social Comparison on Social Media http://bit.ly/country-differences