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Positive and negative experiences on social media and social isolation

Primack, BA and Karim, SA and Shensa, A and Bowman, Nicholas and Knight, Jennifer and Sidani, JE (2019) Positive and negative experiences on social media and social isolation. American Journal of Health Promotion.

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Purpose. To examine the association between positive and negative experiences on social media (SM) and perceived social isolation (PSI).

Design. Cross-sectional survey.

Setting. One large mid-Atlantic University.

Subjects. 1178 students ages 18 to 30 were recruited in August 2016.

Measures. Subjects completed an online survey assessing SM use and PSI. We assessed positive and negative experiences on SM by directly asking participants to estimate what percentage of their SM experiences involved positive and negative experiences, respectively. Social isolation was measured using the established Patient-Reported Outcomes Measures Information System (PROMIS) scale.

Analysis. We used multivariable logistic regression to assess associations between both positive and negative experiences on SM and PSI. Primary models controlled for sex, age, race/ethnicity, educational status, relationship status, and living situation.

Results. Participants had an average age of 20.9 (SD=2.9) and were 62% female. Just over one quarter (28%) were non-White. After controlling for all socio-demographic covariates, each 10% increase in positive experiences was not significantly associated with social isolation (AOR=0.97; 95% CI=0.93-1.005). However, each 10% increase in negative experiences was associated with a 13% increase in odds of PSI (AOR=1.13; 95% CI=1.05-1.21).

Conclusion. Having positive experiences on SM is not associated with lower social isolation, whereas having negative experiences on SM is associated with higher social isolation. These findings are consistent with the concept of negativity bias, which suggests that humans tend to give greater weight to negative entities compared with positive ones.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Primack, BAbprimack@pitt.eduBPRIMACK
Shensa, Aars146@pitt.eduARS146
Sidani, JEjes107@pitt.eduJES107
Centers: Other Centers, Institutes, Offices, or Units > Center for Research on Media, Technology, and Health
Date: 21 January 2019
Journal or Publication Title: American Journal of Health Promotion
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1177/0890117118824196
Schools and Programs: School of Medicine > Medicine
Refereed: Yes
Official URL:
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 04 Feb 2019 14:18
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2019 14:18


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