Insta-Identity: The Longitudinal Reciprocal Relationship Between Authentic and Positive Self-Presentation on Instagram and the Sexual Identity Development of Sexual Minority Youth

Edward Noon, Chia-chen Yang, Ondra Pesout, Michal M. Stefanczyk, Gabriella Seiler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Social media such as Instagram have provided sexual minority youth with safer contexts to express their sexual identity authentically and positively. However, as much of the existing literature draws upon small-scale, cross-sectional, and/or qualitative designs, it is currently unclear how authentic and positive self-presentation on social media informs sexual identity development over time. This study therefore explored the longitudinal relationship between authentic and positive self-presentation on Instagram, and the sexual identity clarity and self-acceptance of sexual minority youth. The moderating effect of micro- (i.e., peer feedback on Instagram) and macro-level (i.e., cultural context) social factors was also examined. Two-wave survey data were collected from 729 sexual minority youth from the United States, the Czech Republic, and Poland (M age = 18.54, SD = 1.63, Female = 76.82%), and data were analyzed using a multi-group cross-lagged panel model. A positive reciprocal relationship was found between positive self-presentation on Instagram and self-acceptance, whilst the associations between sexual identity clarity and self-presentation were moderated by peer feedback on Instagram. Cultural context had no moderating effect on the hypothesized model. Results suggest that whilst a dynamic relationship exists between sexual identity development and self-presentation on Instagram, peer feedback on Instagram may inform the frequency and effects of potentially adaptive self-presentation. This study therefore sheds new light on the developmental and social factors that inform the social media use of sexual minority youth, and findings extend our understanding of how social media contributes to sexual identity formation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2024

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