Stefanone and Yue Keep Up With the Times as much as the Kardashians Keep up with “Reality”

In an article titled,  A social cognitive approach to traditional media content and social media use: Selfie-related behavior as competitive strategy by Stefanone and Yue, a study explores the amount of self worth manifested in selfies, resulting from increased exposure to reality tv. The paper argues that the focus of reality tv to compete for attention influences watchers to model the same behaviour of competing with others for the best self-presentation content.

It is my belief that the findings of this reading are not very relevant, and that the method of communicating scientific research was poor. In another class at UBC, I learned that the requirements for proper scientific research require: transparent procedures, systematic evidence, acknowledgement of uncertainties, and limitations. While the study does acknowledge that they did not differentiate between social media platforms and that there are differences and tendencies respective of each, there are more important elements that should be acknowledged for better clarification.

Many if not all of the hypotheses of this paper were not fully supported by the data. The authors do not go through, in detail, the extent to which their findings were limited, and this may cause the reader to misconstrue partially supported hypotheses to applicable findings based on a truly correlated research.The paper goes on to mention, “At the local level, no relationship between RTV (reality tv) and selfie taking frequency was found.”  

Himani Ahmed seems to disagree with the article even arguing the opposite of the findings, saying that greater self-consciousness seems to be negatively associated with selfie taking behaviours. This standpoint makes a certain amount of sense because it seems to come from an understanding that people with lower levels of self love and self worth would be less likely to take up the narcissistic tendency of taking many selfies.

The scope of this paper is very limited because it measures traditional media systems of reality tv and compares it to feelings of self-worth manifested in the amount of selfie-taking. Nowadays, social media is progressing so quickly that finding trends in people that heavily follow reality tv, is such a small percentage of population compared to other competitive social media environments such as Instagram and Youtube. Even the data at the time showed that 57% of participants did not engage with reality tv and that only 3% were heavy users (which is group in which they were testing trends of selfie-taking and self worth). I myself, do not watch reality tv regularly and feel that this paper seems to string together prevailing thoughts on issues to prop up very minimal scientific findings. Likes and followings, that may have come from selfies, are often considered determinants of social worth nowadays, but this do not fully support everything that the authors seem to imply.

The article also frequently refers to Snapchat, and the lack of risk it holds because the selfies and other media on that platform disappear after 24 hours or even within 10 seconds. This reference also indicates an outdated source of reference because newer technology has released screen recording, thus rendering all media unsafe with the plausibility of any selfie being propagated across social media.

Contributively, Snapchat and Facebook have been slowly becoming less popular with those that post selfies and heavily engage in social media. As an individual growing up among a concentrated social media culture, I feel the shift in myself and in my peers to other forms of sharing content, such as Youtube and Instagram, which are platforms that have easily accessible engagement features such as Instagram polls and question boxes and Youtube vote posts.

Despite all the shortcomings of this article, there is one point which I found quite interesting and relevant to the course. Stefanone and Yue also found that more effort put into social media content, that is, more competitive behaviour  was adopted when people had more diverse audiences and that less work and effort was put into selfies, that is, less competitive behaviour was enacted when the audience was filled with more developed relationships. This idea seems to contrast the findings of Garcia et al which found that social comparison held a higher salience when comparing with those that one knows more personally, rather than others on general.

If there is any takeaway from this, it is that there is a great opportunity for further research in social media for connections between self worth and current uses of social media platforms. However, this article is also a warning. With the current rapid growth of social media and its wide influence across populations, researchers should be wary of their findings losing relevance after only a few years.
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  1. This is a thorough discussion, of such a current topic that exists in our lives right now, I thought that a lot of what you said was really interesting. I also agree with you that the findings in the article by Stefanone and Yue were somewhat irrelevant, especially considering that this topic is so important culture today.
    Your analysis of the paper is also very technical and demonstrates that there are a lot of flaws in this paper, also arguing that another person argues the opposite of the findings.
    I also agree that their explanation of Snapchat is certainly outdated considering the development of newer technology.
    Overall this is a really thorough response, where the end talks about how this is an opportunity for new research due to the lackluster findings of this article.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for your comment! I am glad you engaged with my response. I feel that it is very interesting because it is a very current topic. However, we don’t know how long the topic will be current for. This paper seems to show that it is extremely challenging to find a topic in media that will last and make a difference in discourse communities. Contributively, the huge amount of research that is now being investigated poses even more of a challenge because research does not always agree with each other or support each others findings. It turns out that effective applicable research is much more complicated than expected!


  3. I really enjoyed reading your in-depth analysis of the paper. I think the thing that most stuck out to me is the idea of how someone with an audience of closer relationships is less likely to display competitive behaviour. I’m not sure how much I am able to agree with those findings when viewing that through my own perspectives. It would be interesting if there was a study on the different types of relationships, such as if they are purely friendship, family or previous/ currently romantic partners and if those two differentiated in increased or decreased competitive behaviour.


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