The Role of Social Comparison and Online Social Support in Social Media Addiction Mediated by Self-Esteem and Loneliness
Bettina  F. PIKÓContact / Kontakt / Kapcsolat, Hedvig KISS, Alice HARTMANN, Csaba HAMVAI & Kevin M. FITZPATRICK
EJMH Vol 19, e0019 (2024) 1-11;
Received: 17 October 2023; Accepted: 25 March 2024; Online: 16 May 2024
Section: Research Papers
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Introduction: The diversity of information on social media provides a ubiquitous possibility for social comparison. Online social comparisons have both detrimental and beneficial effects; besides lowering one’s self-esteem, heightening loneliness and addiction, they also bring together people with similar interests which may offer a form of social support.

Aims: This study examines a path model for understanding the link between social comparison and social media addiction while examining online social support, loneliness, and self-esteem.

Methods: Hungarian university students (N = 201, 70.6% women, aged between 18 and 30 years, SD = 2.77) completed an online survey in the spring of 2022.

Results: The final path model suggests that social comparison can directly contribute to social media addiction. This link was mediated by loneliness and self-esteem, resulting in a path with different outcomes: a) social comparison may strengthen loneliness (β = .22, p < .001) which can lead to lower self-esteem (β = .60, p < .001), and b) social comparison may have a negative effect on self-esteem (β = -.22, p < .001) which can reduce social media addiction (β = -.26, p < .001). In addition, social comparison may help obtain online social support (β = .15, p < .050) which can reduce loneliness (β = -.41, p < .001) but increase the likelihood of addiction (β = .26, p < .001).

Conclusions: These findings draw attention to the double-edged sword of social comparison and online social support: we need to learn to consciously manage online social comparison tendencies.


social comparison, online social support, social media addiction, loneliness, self-esteem

Corresponding author

Bettina F. PIKÓ

University of Szeged, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Hungary


Hedvig KISS

University of Szeged, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Hungary


University of Szeged, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Hungary


University of Szeged, Department of Behavioral Sciences, Hungary


Department of Sociology & Criminology, University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR, USA

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