This experiment aimed to examine the impact of muting Instagram strangers and limiting social media use on various measures of psychological well-being. This project was designed to expand upon a study Dr. Hunt’s lab conducted last year that found a correlational connection between interacting with strangers on Instagram and increased depression.
My team and I were able to replicate past years' research finding that limiting social media use led to reduced depression for the most distressed individuals. We were also able to establish a causal relationship between muting strangers on Instagram and increased well-being: muting strangers on Instagram reduced fear of missing out for the most distressed participants and also significantly reduced social comparison.
Through this research experience, I've become more motivated to continue investigating effective ways we can engage with social media to promote connection rather than increase isolation and loneliness. I hope to continue investigating why and how depression and anxiety symptoms unfold among young adults on my path to pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology in the future. Thank you very much to Dr. Hunt and my team members for making this research such a fruitful experience!