Personality as a predictor of visual self-presentation and motivations for photo sharing via social media
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AuthorsKhansari, Azar Eftekhar
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractA growing body of research provides evidence that it is possible to accurately predict personality traits from online activities on social media, Facebook in particular. Despite the popularity and importance of photo sharing, there is little known about whether it is possible to study the expression of personality in Facebook using visual communication data (e.g. the content of uploaded photos). Therefore, this thesis aims to identify the quantity and quality of personality- relevant information from photo-related behaviours on Facebook. Furthermore, since personality traits and motivations are integrated constructs, this thesis also explores the role of personality in determining specific motivations for photo sharing on Facebook to better understand the visual manifestation of personality traits in the online environment. These main objectives of this project are pursued in three empirical studies. Study One (phase one) employed a content analysis approach and was designed to identify which elements of the Big Five personality traits could be a good predictor of certain photo related behaviour (e.g. number of self-generated photo albums). Multiple regression analyses showed that all of the tested features/behaviours were significantly predicted by at least one of the five traits or by the Facebook membership length. Study One (phase two) aimed to gain a deeper understanding of the role of the Big Five in users’ photo uploading behaviours by examining whether it is possible to find personality cues from themes and content of photos such as self-portraits, photos of others, and nature/animals. From the content analysis of photos and conducting multiple regression analyses, the results showed not only can the Big Five personality traits be predicted from certain photo themes (e.g. the more cartoons as tagged photos, the less Agreeable the users), but also traits can be predicted from the location of uploaded photos (e.g. cover section). Study Two investigated possible motivations behind photo sharing on Facebook via qualitative thematic analysis of focus groups. Results revealed that motives for the general use of Facebook can differ from motives for the use of particular features. As ‘self-expression and self presentation’, ‘keeping and sharing memories/ life documentation’, and ‘preference for visual communication’ appeared to be three unique factors encouraging users to share photos. While the other three motives, including ‘relationship maintenance’, ‘social/peer pressure’, and ‘enjoyment and entertainment’ were similar to previously identified motives for the general use of Facebook. The final study of this thesis aimed to use, validate and extend the findings from the last three studies. In particular, a photo-sharing motivations scale was devised based on the key themes extracted from Focus group discussions in Study Two. Principal component analysis identified seven distinct motivational components. The motivations were successfully predicted by Narcissism and the Big Five personality traits through a series regression analyses. Therefore, it is suggested that users with different personality traits pursue photo-sharing goals that are in line with their personality needs. This thesis extends research on online expressions of personality and visual self-presentation. The findings support several theoretical assumptions, such as self- presentation, online manifestation of personality, the uses and gratifications model, and the extended real-life hypothesis. Additionally, the results offer some practical implications.
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
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