Volume 11, Issue 1 p. 274-302
Original Article

Do Social Network Sites Enhance or Undermine Subjective Well-Being? A Critical Review

Philippe Verduyn

Corresponding Author

Philippe Verduyn

Maastricht University

KU Leuven

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Philippe Verduyn, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, Maastricht University, Universiteitssingel 40, 6229 Maastricht, the Netherlands. Tel: +31 43 38 84 347 [e-mail: [email protected]].Search for more papers by this author
Oscar Ybarra

Oscar Ybarra

University of Michigan

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Maxime Résibois

Maxime Résibois

KU Leuven

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John Jonides

John Jonides

University of Michigan

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Ethan Kross

Ethan Kross

University of Michigan

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First published: 13 January 2017
Citations: 517

Abstract

Social network sites are ubiquitous and now constitute a common tool people use to interact with one another in daily life. Here we review the consequences of interacting with social network sites for subjective well-being—that is, how people feel moment-to-moment and how satisfied they are with their lives. We begin by clarifying the constructs that we focus on in this review: social network sites and subjective well-being. Next, we review the literature that explains how these constructs are related. This research reveals: (a) negative relationships between passively using social network sites and subjective well-being, and (b) positive relationships between actively using social network sites and subjective well-being, with the former relationship being more robust than the latter. Specifically, passively using social network sites provokes social comparisons and envy, which have negative downstream consequences for subjective well-being. In contrast, when active usage of social network sites predicts subjective well-being, it seems to do so by creating social capital and stimulating feelings of social connectedness. We conclude by discussing the policy implications of this work.