Need for Popularity as a Moderator

Need for Popularity as a Moderator
The need for popularity refers to people’s desire to do something to appear popular (Santor et al., 2000). The need
for popularity facilitates one’s certain behaviors to be accepted by peer groups and build relationships with peers
(Santor et al., 2000). As previously stated, SNS platforms provide individuals with capabilities for presenting
themselves in a selective way to a large number of friends or followers (Manago et al., 2008; Zhao et al., 2008). In
this regard, SNS is considered as an ideal venue for achieving a high popularity (Utz et al., 2012). According to
Zywica and Danowski (2008), extroverted SNS users with higher self-esteem already enjoy high popularity offline
and try to reinforce their popularity on SNS, whereas introverted users with low self-esteem strive to appear more
popular on SNS to compensate their low popularity offline.
SNS users with a high need for popularity are more likely to disclose information about themselves (Christofides
et al., 2009). Moreover, they tend to present more idealized images of themselves for increasing their popularity
on their online networks (Utz & Beukeboom, 2011). Utz et al. (2012) provided empirical evidence that SNS users
with a higher need for popularity more frequently engage in profile enhancement and strategic self-presentation
to affect others’ perceptions about themselves.
The need for popularity is also positively related to the frequency of selfie-posting (J. W. Kim & Chock, 2017). SNS
users gauge their popularity on online networks based on quantitative measures of feedback from others (Chua
& Chang, 2016; Jin & Muqaddam, 2018). Therefore, those with a high need for popularity may post more carefully
selected and edited or retouched selfies to receive a great number of “likes,” “followers,” and “comments.” (Chae,
2017; Chua & Chang, 2016; Fox & Vendemia, 2016; Haferkamp & Krämer, 2011; Mascheroni et al., 2015). This
suggests that when Instagram users with a high need for popularity post selfies, they may be more concerned
about others’ evaluation of themselves rather than the self-evaluation.
In contrast, those with a low need for popularity may post their selfies for self-affirming positive aspects of their
physical appearance rather than receiving positive feedback from others. Therefore, when Instagram users with
a low need for popularity take and upload selfies more frequently, they may be able to take more advantages of
enhancing their self-esteem than those with a high need for popularity. This suggests that Instagram users’ levels
of the need for popularity could condition the influence of selfie-posting behavior on self-esteem. Thus, the
following hypothesis is posited:
H2: The need for popularity will moderate the influence of selfie-posting behavior on self-esteem, such that the
influence of selfie-posting behavior is greater for those with lower levels than higher levels of the need for
Figure 1. Conceptual Model of the Conditional Indirect Effect of Instagram Users’ Selfie-Posting Behavior on Their Body
Dissatisfaction Through Their Self-Esteem.
Finally, drawing on the discussions above, the researcher tests a moderated mediation model of Instagram users’
selfie-posting and body dissatisfaction. Summarizing the arguments given above, it is likely that the need for
popularity moderates the indirect relationship between selfie-posting and body dissatisfaction through selfesteem
(See Figure 1). Therefore, the following hypothesis is proposed:
H3: The need for popularity will moderate the mediation of self-esteem, such that the indirect effect of selfieposting
behavior via self-esteem is greater for those with lower levels than higher levels of the need for popularity.
Study Context
This investigation was conducted in the context of a particular SNS platform, Instagram in South Korea in July 2017.
This is because Instagram designed for posting and sharing images has become a more primary channel for
posting selfies compared to other SNS platforms such as Facebook and Twitter (Fardouly et al., 2018). Young adults
(ages 18 to 29) are the highest Instagram users and females use Instagram more frequently than males in South
Korea (Korea Press Foundation, 2019). Besides, body image concerns including body dissatisfaction are prevailing
among female college students (Neighbors & Sobal, 2007). Therefore, this study was conducted with female
college students from South Korea.
An online survey was conducted to test the proposed hypotheses. Participants were recruited from a survey panel
of a research firm in South Korea. The company advertised this survey by sending an email invitation to its panel
members. Only female college students who have an existing Instagram account were allowed to sign up for this
survey. Participants who completed the survey received a reward of $ 1.5.
A total of 321 female college students participated in this survey. Participants’ mean age was 21.29 (SD = 1.61). The
mean of body mass index (BMI: kg/m2) was 20.58 (SD = 2.75, range =15.43-30.85), which falls in the normal weight
range (World Health Organization, 2006).
Selfie-Posting Behavior
Consistent with J. W. Kim and Chock (2017), participants’ selfie-posting behavior was assessed by following two
questions: “how often do you take photographs of yourself?” and “how often do you post photographs of yourself
on your Instagram page?” (1: never, 7: very frequently). Responses were averaged to produce a selfie-posting index
(α = .82 M = 3.56, SD = 1.45).
The Rosenberg self-esteem scale (Rosenberg, 1965) was used to measure participants’ self-esteem. Participants
were directed to indicate how much they agreed with ten statements including “I feel that I’m a person of worth,
at least on an equal plane with others” and “I feel that I have a number of good qualities.” Following Wang et al.
(2017), items were scored on a 7-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree, 7 = strongly agree). Relevant items were
reversely coded. After reverse-coding, the average of all responses was calculated to use as a self-esteem index (α
= .87, M = 4.45, SD = .94).
Body Dissatisfaction
Participants’ body dissatisfaction was gauged using a subscale of the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI; Garner et al.,
1983). The body dissatisfaction subscale consists of nine items such as “I think my stomach is too big” and “I think
that my thighs are too large” (1 = never, 6 = always). After reverse-coding some items, responses were averaged to
create an index of body dissatisfaction (α = .84, M = 4.09, SD = .95).
Need for Popularity
To measure the need for popularity, participants were directed to report the extent to which they agreed with
twelve items from Santor et al.’s study (2000). Examples include: “I have done things to make me more popular,
even when it meant doing something I would not usually do,” “At times, I have ignored some people in order to be
more popular with others,” and “It is important that people think I am popular.” (1: strongly disagree, 7: strongly
agree). The twelve items offered a high reliability and all responses were averaged (α = .92, M = 2.93, SD = 1.15).
Control Variables
Prior research has shown that SNS use is closely related to young women’s body image (e.g., Tiggemann & Miller,
2010). Therefore, Instagram use was measured to control. Consistent with a previous study (Fardouly et al., 2018),
participants’ Instagram use was assessed with the following two questions: “How often do you check Instagram?”
(1: not at all, 2: every few days, 3: once a day, 4: every few hours, 5: every hour, 6: every 30 minutes, 7: every 10 minutes,
8: every 5 minutes) (M = 3.66, SD = 1.27) and “how long do you spend on Instagram on a typical day?” (1 = 5 minutes
or less, 2 = 15 minutes, 3 = 30 minutes, 4 = 1 hour, 5 = 2 hours, 6 = 3 hours, 7 = 4 hours, 8 = 5 hours, 9 = 6 hours, 10 =
7 hours, 11 = 8 hours, 12 = 9 hours, 13 = 10 hours or more) (M = 3.30, SD = 1.81). Responses to the two questions
were highly correlated (r = .61, p < .001). These two questions were assessed by scales with different ranges. Thus,
standard scores (i.e., z score) of these responses were calculated and averaged to create an index of Instagram
use (range = -1.68 to 3.99).
Young women’s age and BMI have been found to influence their body image (Cohen et al., 2018). Thus, both were
measured to control. Participants were asked to report their age, height, and weight. BMI was calculated using
height and weight information.
As a preliminary analysis, bivariate correlations between all variables were calculated (See Table 1). Then, the
proposed hypotheses were tested using PROCESS macro (Version 3) for SPSS (Hayes, 2013). Analyses for mediation
(H1), moderation (H2), and moderated mediation (H3) were conducted with the PROCESS models. The control
variables aforementioned were entered into all analyses.
Table 1. Bivariate Correlations Among All Study Variables.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
1. Age 1
2. Instagram use .172** 1
3. BMI -.002 -.087 1
4. Selfie-posting -.065 .275** -.147** 1
5. Self-esteem -.001 .057 -.032 .156** 1
6. Body dissatisfaction -.052 -.071 .514** -.196** -.294** 1
7. Need for popularity -.032 .144* -.130* .244** -.145** -.110* 1
Note. *p < .05, **p < .01
Hypothesis 1 predicted that Instagram users’ self-esteem will mediate the relationship between their selfie-posting
and body dissatisfaction. A mediation test was conducted using the PROCESS model 4, controlling for participants’
age, BMI, and Instagram use. Results showed that more frequent taking and posting of selfies on Instagram were
related to higher levels of self-esteem (b = .11, SE = .04, t = 2.48, p = .013). In addition, greater self-esteem was
connected with low levels of body dissatisfaction (b = -.27, SE = .05, t = -5.3, p < .001).
95% bias-corrected confidence interval (CI) based on 10,000 bootstrap samples was employed to investigate a
mediating role of self-esteem. A significant mediating effect was found, such that Instagram users’ selfie-posting
behavior indirectly decreases their body dissatisfaction by increasing their self-esteem (b = -.03, Boot SE = .01, 95%
CI [-.052, -.006]). A Sobel indirect effect test also showed that the mediating effect of self-esteem on the
relationship between Instagram selfie-posting and body dissatisfaction was significant (Sobel Z = -2.22, p = .027).
The direct effect of Instagram selfie-posting on body dissatisfaction was not significant (b = -.06, SE = .03, t = -1.78,
p = .08). Therefore, hypothesis 1 was supported.
Hypothesis 2 predicted that Instagram users’ need for popularity will moderate the influence of selfie-posting on
self-esteem. A moderation test (the PROCESS model 1) was conducted treating the need for popularity as a
moderating variable, controlling for participants’ age, BMI, and Instagram use. Results indicated that an interaction
effect between Instagram selfie-posting and the need for popularity on self-esteem was significant and negative
(b = -.07, SE = .03, t = 2.97, p < .01). To examine this interaction, values of the moderator were categorized into
three groups (i.e., a group at the mean, groups plus and minus one standard deviation from the mean). As shown
in Figure 2, the positive effect of Instagram selfie-posting on self-esteem was significant only for those with low
(Mean – 1SD) (b = .21, SE = .05, t = 3.83, p < .001) and moderate (Mean) (b = .12, SE = .04, t = 2.97, p < .01) levels of
the need for popularity. The effect was not significant among those who have high levels of the need for popularity
(Mean + 1SD) (b = .03, SE = .05, t = .67, p = .50). These results showed that the positive effect of Instagram users’
selfie-posting on their self-esteem was conditional on individual differences in the need for popularity. Therefore,
hypothesis 2 was confirmed.
Figure 2. The Need for Popularity as a Moderator of the Relationship Between Instagram Users’ Selfie-Posting
Behavior and Their Self-Esteem.
Note. Selfie-posting and the need for popularity were mean-centered prior to analysis.
Hypothesis 3 predicted that Instagram users’ need for popularity will moderate the indirect influence of Instagram
selfie-posting on body dissatisfaction via self-esteem. As shown in Figure 3, a moderated mediation effect was
analyzed with the PROCESS model 7, controlling for participants’ age, BMI, and Instagram use (See Table 2). The
index of moderated mediation showed that the indirect effect of Instagram selfie-posting on body dissatisfaction
via self-esteem is significantly moderated by self-esteem (index = .02, SE = .02, 95% CI [.007, .038]).
Figure 3. Moderated Mediation Effect: Indirect Relationship Between Instagram Users’ Selfie-Posting Behavior and Their Body
Dissatisfaction Through Self-Esteem That is Moderated by Their Need for Popularity.
Note. Path coefficients are unstandardized (Standard errors in parentheses).
*p < .05; **p < .001.
Table 2. Regression Results From the Moderated Mediation Model (PROCESS Model 7) for Predicting
Self-Esteem and Body Dissatisfaction (N = 321).
Self-esteem Body dissatisfaction
b(SE) p b(SE) p
Control variables
Age .00(.04) .951 -.04(.03) .187
BMI -.01(.02) .676 .17(.02)** .000
Instagram use .03(.06) .579 .02(.06) .665
Conceptual variables
Selfie-posting .17(.04)* .003 -.06(.03) .077
Need for popularity -.14(.05)* .004
Selfie-posting×Need for popularity -.07(.03)* .007
Self-esteem -.27(.05)** .000
Constant 4.6(.82) .000 2.54(.78) .001
R2 .08 .000 .35 .000
Note. b: unstandardized regression coefficients. SE: standard error.
Selfie-posting and the need for popularity were mean-centered before computing the interaction term.
*p < .01, **p < .001.
Specifically, as demonstrated in Table 3, the negative indirect effect of Instagram selfie-posting on body
dissatisfaction through self-esteem was significant when users’ need for popularity is low (Mean – 1SD) (b = -.05, SE
= .02, 95% CI [-.090, -.026]) and moderate (Mean) (b = -.03, SE = .01, 95% CI [-.058, -.011]. The indirect effect was not
significant among those with high levels of the need for popularity (Mean + 1SD) (b = -.01, SE = .01, 95% CI [-.036,
.016]). These results showed that the indirect effect of Instagram users’ selfie-posting on their body dissatisfaction
via self-esteem was manifest only when their need for popularity was low or moderate. Thus, hypothesis 3 was
Table 3. The Conditional Indirect Effect of Selfie-Posting on Body Dissatisfaction via Self-Esteem Depending on
Values of the Need for Popularity.
Need for popularity Indirect effect(Boot SE) Boot 95% CI
Low -.05(.02) [-.090, -.026]
Medium -.03(.01) [-.058, -.011]
High -.01(.01) [-.036, .016]
Note. For the need for popularity, low, medium, and high categorizations refer to one standard deviation below the
mean, the mean, and one standard deviation above the mean respectively. SE = standard error. CI = confidence
interval. Bootstrapped standard errors and confidence intervals were computed using 10,000 bootstrap samples.
This study explored a mediating role of self-esteem in the relationship between Instagram users’ selfie-posting
behavior and their body dissatisfaction. Moreover, this study examined whether this mediating relationship is
contingent upon Instagram users’ need for popularity. As expected, the results of this study support the proposed
indirect effect model, indicating that Instagram users’ selfie-posting behavior decreases their body dissatisfaction
by enhancing their self-esteem. Such an indirect effect was significant only for those with low or moderate levels
of the need for popularity.
This study provides several implications for the literature on selfies and body image. First of all, this study extended
prior research by directly investigating the effect of selfie-posting behavior on young women’s self-esteem and
body image concerns. Previous studies regarding SNS users’ selfie-posting have mainly explored the predictors of
selfie-posting such as narcissism (J. W. Kim & Chock, 2017) and personal traits (Sorokowska et al., 2016). Little
studies have examined young women’s selfie-posting behavior as a determinant of self-esteem and body image
concerns. Drawing on the positive illusion theory (S. E. Taylor & Armor, 1996), this study provides evidence that
young women’s selfie-posting behavior can contribute to enhancing their self-esteem and decreasing their body
dissatisfaction. Instagram users’ selfie-posting behavior as an act of positive self-presentation seems to produce
positive illusions of themselves. Such positive illusions appear to play a pivotal role in boosting self-esteem but
reducing body image concerns.
These findings are particularly important given growing concerns about the negative effects of selfie activities on
young women’s body image (Mills et al., 2018; Tiggemann et al., 2020). Prior research has shown that exposure to
Instagram selfies negatively influences young women’s body image (Chang et al., 2019; Wang et al., 2019; J. Yang
et al., 2020). Instagram users are not only viewing others’ selfies but also post their own selfies. The findings of
this study show that unlike passive viewing of others’ selfies, selfie-posting activity may have a positive impact on
young women’s self-esteem and body image. This contributes to a deeper understanding of the nuanced
relationships between different types of Instagram selfie activities (e.g., viewing and posting) and young women’s
body image concerns.
Second, to my knowledge, the current study is the first to examine explanatory mechanisms underlying the
relationship between selfie-posting behavior and body image concerns. Extending previous studies that explored
whether selfie-posting is associated with body image concerns (Butkowski et al., 2019; Chang et al., 2019; Cohen
et al., 2018; Ridgway & Clayton, 2016), this study shows that Instagram users’ self-esteem mediates the relationship
between their selfie-posting behavior and body dissatisfaction. The direct effect of selfie-posting on body
dissatisfaction was not found. These findings indicate that the relationship between selfie-posting behavior and
body dissatisfaction is not simple. A notable finding of this study is the critical role that self-esteem plays in
reducing young women’s body dissatisfaction. This finding suggests that individuals’ self-esteem matters in the
relationship between their selfie-posting behavior and body image concerns.
Third but more important, the current study provides insights into boundary conditions of selfie-posting effects.
As of yet, no study has explored individual differences in selfie-posting effects on body image concerns. A
contribution of this study lies in its investigation of the need for popularity as a potential moderator of the
relationships among selfie-posting behavior, self-esteem, and body dissatisfaction. This study indicated that the
positive effect of selfie-posting on self-esteem was significant only among those with low or moderate levels of
the need for popularity. Furthermore, the indirect effect of selfie-posting on body dissatisfaction via self-esteem
was also found only among those with a low or moderate need for popularity.
For those with high levels of the need for popularity, selfie-posting behavior was not related to self-esteem and
body dissatisfaction. Instagram users with a high need for popularity might be more concerned with their
appearance and conscious of how others see themselves. They might consider the feedback to their selfies as a
reliable barometer of their physical attractiveness and high popularity (Chua & Chang, 2016). For attracting more
positive feedback to selfies, they may not only edit their selfies more but also over-scrutinize or ruminate on their
selfies and the feedback they receive. The great number of likes and positive comments individuals receive on
their selfies may lead to positive self-evaluations (Burrow & Rainone, 2017). However, prior research suggests that
users who highly value or invest others’ feedback to their selfies may not experience such positive effects of the
feedback (Butkowski et al., 2019). As mentioned above, Instagram users with a high need for popularity may be
more likely to care about other people’s feedback to their selfies, which might make themselves less susceptible
to the positive effects of that feedback than those who are less concerned with their popularity.
In contrast, those with a low need for popularity may not care too much about others’ evaluations or feedback.
They may post selfies to satisfy their basic desire for protecting their self-worth by confirming positive facets of
their appearance rather than gaining high popularity from others. Thus, for those with a low need for popularity,
selfie-posting may be a useful way to enhance self-esteem and consequently alleviating body image concerns.
The present study has several limitations worth noting. First of all, the current study employed a cross-sectional
survey to collect data. Thus, this study cannot guarantee the direction of causal relationships between variables.
Experimental or longitudinal studies are needed to clarify the direction of the relationships between selfie-posting,
self-esteem, and body image concerns. Second, this study used self-report measures that may produce social
desirability and retrospective bias. Future research could employ qualitative research methods to ecologically
validate the relationship between selfie-posting and body image concerns. Third, this study assessed selfie-posting
behavior by asking the frequency of selfie-taking and posting. Even though selfie-taking and posting were highly
related, both may have different effects on body image. Therefore, the findings of this study should be interpreted
with caution. Also, this study tested the moderating role of the need for popularity. Instagram users’ need for
popularity may be closely related to the number of followers. Future studies need to consider the number of
followers as a control variable. Furthermore, I assumed Instagram users who post selfies would beautify their
selfies before posting them on Instagram. Such an assumption was not tested directly in this study. This
assumption might be addressed in future studies. Finally, this study was limited to one SNS platform, Instagram,
and one user group, female college students. Thus, the results of the present study may not be generalizable to
different SNS platforms or different groups of Instagram users.
In conclusion, the findings of this study indicate that young women’s selfie-posting behavior can reduce their body
image concerns by enhancing their self-esteem. Such indirect effects of selfie-posting behavior could be manifest
only among those who do not care too much about their popularity from others. The findings point to the subtle
ways in which young women’s selfie-posting behavior can influence their body image.
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Will the professor find out I didn’t write the paper myself?

Not at all. All papers are written from scratch. There is no way your tutor or instructor will realize that you did not write the paper yourself. In fact, we recommend using our assignment help services for consistent results.

What if the paper is plagiarized?

We check all papers for plagiarism before we submit them. We use powerful plagiarism checking software such as SafeAssign, LopesWrite, and Turnitin. We also upload the plagiarism report so that you can review it. We understand that plagiarism is academic suicide. We would not take the risk of submitting plagiarized work and jeopardize your academic journey. Furthermore, we do not sell or use prewritten papers, and each paper is written from scratch.

When will I get my paper?

You determine when you get the paper by setting the deadline when placing the order. All papers are delivered within the deadline. We are well aware that we operate in a time-sensitive industry. As such, we have laid out strategies to ensure that the client receives the paper on time and they never miss the deadline. We understand that papers that are submitted late have some points deducted. We do not want you to miss any points due to late submission. We work on beating deadlines by huge margins in order to ensure that you have ample time to review the paper before you submit it.

Will anyone find out that I used your services?

We have a privacy and confidentiality policy that guides our work. We NEVER share any customer information with third parties. Noone will ever know that you used our assignment help services. It’s only between you and us. We are bound by our policies to protect the customer’s identity and information. All your information, such as your names, phone number, email, order information, and so on, are protected. We have robust security systems that ensure that your data is protected. Hacking our systems is close to impossible, and it has never happened.

How our Assignment Help Service Works

1. Place an order

You fill all the paper instructions in the order form. Make sure you include all the helpful materials so that our academic writers can deliver the perfect paper. It will also help to eliminate unnecessary revisions.

2. Pay for the order

Proceed to pay for the paper so that it can be assigned to one of our expert academic writers. The paper subject is matched with the writer’s area of specialization.

3. Track the progress

You communicate with the writer and know about the progress of the paper. The client can ask the writer for drafts of the paper. The client can upload extra material and include additional instructions from the lecturer. Receive a paper.

4. Download the paper

The paper is sent to your email and uploaded to your personal account. You also get a plagiarism report attached to your paper.

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550 words
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Basic features
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  • Unlimited revisions
  • Plagiarism-free guarantee
  • Money-back guarantee
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On-demand options
  • Writer’s samples
  • Part-by-part delivery
  • Overnight delivery
  • Copies of used sources
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Paper format
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  • 12 pt Arial/Times New Roman
  • Double line spacing
  • Any citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago/Turabian, Harvard)

Our guarantees

Delivering a high-quality product at a reasonable price is not enough anymore.
That’s why we have developed 5 beneficial guarantees that will make your experience with our service enjoyable, easy, and safe.

Money-back guarantee

You have to be 100% sure of the quality of your product to give a money-back guarantee. This describes us perfectly. Make sure that this guarantee is totally transparent.

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Zero-plagiarism guarantee

Each paper is composed from scratch, according to your instructions. It is then checked by our plagiarism-detection software. There is no gap where plagiarism could squeeze in.

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Free-revision policy

Thanks to our free revisions, there is no way for you to be unsatisfied. We will work on your paper until you are completely happy with the result.

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Privacy policy

Your email is safe, as we store it according to international data protection rules. Your bank details are secure, as we use only reliable payment systems.

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By sending us your money, you buy the service we provide. Check out our terms and conditions if you prefer business talks to be laid out in official language.

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