Study finds Instagram allows reserved individuals to express themselves

About 700 students participated in Sona survey; 67 percent were female, 33 percent were male



Danielle Lee, lead author of the study and WSU doctorate student, discusses her work on studying Instagram’s virtual features and their effect on real relationships Tuesday in Goertzen Hall.

MADYSEN MCLAIN, Evergreen reporter

Instagram could provide young adults with more real-life relationships, according to one WSU study.

Researchers in the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication recently published an article which found that young adults who are more reserved in face-to-face communication are more likely to express self-presentation on Instagram.

Self-presentation then leads to friendship development, said Porismita Borah, associate professor and co-author on the paper.

Researchers started collecting survey responses in 2018, Borah said. Around 700 WSU students took the survey through the Murrow Sona System to receive extra credit, she said.

“We don’t want to go to the extent of saying introvert versus extrovert because we didn’t have those measurements in our study,” Borah said.

Danielle Lee, lead author of the study and WSU doctorate student, said that Instagram has unique aspects, such as only allowing users to post photos. This makes the platform more visually stimulating, she said.

Lee said there have been several studies about the connection between social media and certain personality traits, such as narcissism. However, the studies don’t usually address Instagram specifically.

“We found that if people felt like Instagram had a good amount of features, then those features enable them to have a natural communication,” Lee said. “They will feel like Instagram is more functional.”

Lee said the way people follow each other on Instagram also contributes to the platform’s uniqueness. If someone’s profile is public, then anyone can follow that person, which is different than Facebook where the person needs to accept the friend request.

“We are not just looking into the extrinsic media features, but we also look into the intrinsic personality traits,” Lee said.

Borah said about 67 percent of survey respondents were female and about 33 percent were male. She said the average age of respondents was about 20 years old.

Borah said she wants to complete a follow-up experiment rather than conduct another survey on this topic. However, she doesn’t know any of the details yet.