Mother to Mother: Mothers’ Social Comparison-Based Emotions on Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites (SNSs) are platforms where people make social comparisons very frequently, and because of those comparisons, they have the potential for evoking a wide range of emotions. According to typology of social comparison-based emotions, the emotions felt after social comparisons may vary according to the direction of comparison (upward vs. downward) as well as the internal process that triggered by those comparisons (assimilation vs. contrast). The current study aims to examine the mothers' emotions they felt after social comparisons they make with other mothers on the SNSs, and search out the usefulness of using the typology of social comparison-based emotions in examining those emotions. For this purpose, an online survey was conducted on 42 mothers between the ages of 20 and 48, who have been a member of SNSs for at least six months. Mothers responses to two open-ended questions; one is about the emotions they feel after upward comparisons, and the other is about the ones that they felt after downward comparison they made with other mothers on SNSs, were examined through thematic analyses. The results pointed out that the emotion classification offered in Smith’s theory might be useful in examining the social comparisons on SNSs made by mothers, with the addition of some new categories. Specifically, it was found that some mothers feel doubts about the credibility of information in other mothers’ posts, and some others denied they are emotionally influenced by social comparisons. Another interesting finding was that mothers reported to feel assimilative and contrastive emotions simultaneously.