School of Communication and the Arts
Doctor of Philosophy
Social media influencers, social media, Instagram, adolescents, hashtags, micro reality, self-image, micro realities, social comparison theory, media ecology theory
Consterdine, Jessica Amanda, "Self-Image as a Micro Reality: A Qualitative Content Analysis of Social Media Influencers and Adolescent Followers" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4850.
This study aimed to investigate content depicted by social media influencers and examine how its engagement aligns with the theoretical components of social comparison theory, providing an understanding of how adolescents view self-image. The parasocial relationships between social media influencers and adolescent followers on Instagram were investigated by exploring how the relationship dynamic is challenged with paid endorsements, envy by followers, and strategic communication. Incorporating content analysis with thematic analysis from the most popular social media influencers on Instagram, findings revealed a relationship between hashtag usage and the adolescent creation of self-image micro realities. The analysis demonstrated a strong correlation between social media influencer-follower engagement, hashtag use, and self-image micro realities. Guided by the social comparison theory, it was hypothesized that content from social media influencers would depict themes that contain appearance-focused content, are congruent with an unrealistic self-image for adolescents, and use metadata tags or hashtags that directly correlate to adolescent followers and self-body images. The research found that adolescent followers create self-image micro realities because of engaging content on Instagram.