The effect of Instagram "likes" on women's social comparison and body dissatisfaction

Body Image. 2018 Sep;26:90-97. doi: 10.1016/j.bodyim.2018.07.002. Epub 2018 Jul 21.


Photo-based activity on social networking sites has recently been identified as contributing to body image concerns. The present study aimed to investigate experimentally the effect of number of likes accompanying Instagram images on women's own body dissatisfaction. Participants were 220 female undergraduate students who were randomly assigned to view a set of thin-ideal or average images paired with a low or high number of likes presented in an Instagram frame. Results showed that exposure to thin-ideal images led to greater body and facial dissatisfaction than average images. While the number of likes had no effect on body dissatisfaction or appearance comparison, it had a positive effect on facial dissatisfaction. These effects were not moderated by Instagram involvement, but greater investment in Instagram likes was associated with more appearance comparison and facial dissatisfaction. The results illustrate how the uniquely social interactional aspects of social media (e.g., likes) can affect body image.

Keywords: Body image; Facial dissatisfaction; Instagram; Number of likes; Social networking sites.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Image / psychology*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Feedback, Psychological / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Social Media*
  • Students
  • Thinness / psychology*
  • Young Adult