Existential Dilemma on Facebook: Social Networking as Tool for Anxiety Mitigation
thesisposted on 2015-10-21, 00:00 authored by Kaylee P. Kruzan
Terror management theory (TMT) posits that humans mitigate mortality-related anxieties through the dual systems of cultural worldview and self-esteem. Additional research has shown connections between body awareness and symbolic immortality in regards to alleviating this anxiety. The current thesis integrates the body of literature on TMT and research on Social Networking Sites (SNS) in order to lay foundation for the claim that Facebook may serve a complex role in the mitigation of existential anxiety. Because research has shown that SNS use varies with individual personality characteristics, the role of Facebook is likely moderated by personality. I use a quasi-experimental design to test the following research questions: Does Facebook use affect existential anxiety and State Self-Esteem? and, Does Emotional Stability moderate these effects? I hypothesized that exposure to Facebook will decrease death-thought accessibility (DTA) and increase state self-esteem (SSE) among those with normal to high emotional stability. Conversely DTA will increase and SSE will decrease among neurotic individuals. Contrary to what was expected the first three hypotheses did not reach significance and the last was moderately supported by a trending find. Interesting relationships were uncovered after calculating bivariate correlations on account of age, self-esteem and personality traits. Additionally a significant robust three-way interaction between Facebook use, relationship status and neuroticism is discussed at depth.