Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control

46 Pages Posted: 3 Oct 2012  

Keith Wilcox

Columbia Business School - Marketing

Andrew T. Stephen

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Date Written: September 22, 2012

Abstract

Online social networks are used by hundreds of millions of people every day, but little is known about their effect on behavior. In five experiments, we demonstrate that social network use enhances self-esteem in users who are focused on close friends (i.e., strong ties) while browsing their social network. This momentary increase in self-esteem reduces self-control, leading those focused on strong ties to display less self-control after browsing a social network. Additionally, we present evidence suggesting that greater social network use is associated with a higher body-mass index and higher levels of credit card debt for individuals with strong ties to their social network. This research extends previous findings by demonstrating that social networks primarily enhance self-esteem for those focused on strong ties during social network use. Additionally, this research also has implications for policy makers because self-control is an important mechanism for maintaining social order and well-being.

Keywords: social networks, social media, facebook, self esteem, self control, tie strength, consumer behavior

JEL Classification: M31

Suggested Citation

Wilcox, Keith and Stephen, Andrew T., Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control (September 22, 2012). Journal of Consumer Research, Forthcoming; Columbia Business School Research Paper No. 12-57. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2155864

Keith Wilcox

Columbia Business School - Marketing ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

Andrew T. Stephen (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

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