Keeping Up with the E-Joneses: Do Online Social Networks Raise Social Comparisons?

38 Pages Posted: 28 Apr 2016

See all articles by Fabio Sabatini

Fabio Sabatini

Sapienza University of Rome - Department of Economics and Law; Euricse

Francesco Sarracino

STATEC; HSE-LCSR

Date Written: April 27, 2016

Abstract

Online social networks, such as Facebook, disclose an unprecedented volume of personal information amplifying the occasions for social comparisons, which can be a cause of frustration. We test the hypothesis that the use of social networking sites (SNS) increases social comparisons as proxied by people’s dissatisfaction with their income and we compare the effect of SNS in Western and Eastern European countries. After controlling for the possibility of reverse causality, our results suggest that SNS users have a higher probability to compare their achievements with those of others. In Western countries, this leads individuals to a lower satisfaction with their economic conditions. The opposite holds in Eastern countries, where upward comparisons seemingly strengthen the hope that an improvement in individuals’ economic conditions will occur (so called “tunnel effect”). We conclude that SNS can be a strong engine of frustration for their users depending on the institutional and economic circumstances.

Keywords: Social Networks, Social Networking Sites, Social Comparisons, Satisfaction with Income, Relative Deprivation

JEL Classification: D83, I31, O33, Z1, Z13

Suggested Citation

Sabatini, Fabio and Sarracino, Francesco, Keeping Up with the E-Joneses: Do Online Social Networks Raise Social Comparisons? (April 27, 2016). FEEM Working Paper No. 32.2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2771042 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2771042

Fabio Sabatini (Contact Author)

Sapienza University of Rome - Department of Economics and Law ( email )

Piazzale Aldo Moro 5
Roma, Rome 00185
Italy

Euricse ( email )

Via S. Giovanni 36
38122 Trento (TN)
Italy

Francesco Sarracino

STATEC ( email )

BP 304
Luxembourg City, L-2013
Luxembourg

HSE-LCSR ( email )

47a, prospect Rimskogo-Korsakova
Saint-Petersburg, 190068
Russia

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