Comparative social media use and the mental health of mothers with high levels of perfectionism

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 2018, 37 (7), pp. 514 - 535
Issue Date:
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© 2018 Guilford Publications, Inc. Social media is thought to communicate idealized images and discourses of motherhood. As such, it may present as a risk factor for poor mental health in mothers who strive for perfection and compare themselves to the ideals presented on social media. The present study examined the influence of Facebook and Instagram on the relationship between perfectionism in mothers and their mental health. A sample of 201 mothers completed an online survey. Two dimensions of perfectionism were assessed: Self-Orientated Parenting Perfectionism (SOPP) and Societal-Prescribed Parenting Perfectionism (SPPP). Mediation models were conducted to examine social media frequency and social comparison respectively on the relationship between perfectionism and maternal mental health. Results revealed that for mothers with SOPP, the process of social comparison with other mothers on social media contributed to symptoms of anxiety and depression. The amount of time engaging in social media however, had no impact. In contrast, for mothers with SPPP, the amount of time spent on Facebook contributed to symptoms of depression and anxiety, while the process of social comparison led to anxiety symptoms alone. Social comparison appears to be important for perfectionistic mothers who use social media, as this may contribute to negative mental health outcomes.
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