Others’ Posts as a Moderator of the Association Between Social Media Influence and Self Posts
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Social media sites have been found to overinflate college students’ perceptions of sexual norms by presenting content suggesting greater approval of risky sexual behaviors. Results from a study on MySpace found that 24% of all profiles contained sexual behavior references. One study found participants who observed sexually suggestive photos on Facebook expected that a larger percentage of their peers would engage in risky sex; increasing their own likelihood to engage in risky sex. This study is the first to explore how other students’ sexual posts moderates the association between individuals’ sexual posts and their engagement in sexual activities. College students completed an online survey about their peers’ and own social media posts and sexual behaviors for course credit. Linear regression analysis was used to test the hypotheses. Results suggested that others’ posts were not a significant predictor of the influence of social media on engagement in sexual behaviors, self-posts were positively associated the influence social media on engagement in sexual behaviors, and others’ posts moderated the association between self-posts and social media influence on sexual behaviors. These results support 2/3 of our hypotheses, which provide a foundation for further research on the influence of social media on risky behaviors.