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An investigation of individual differences and Instagram use as predictors of orthorexia
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 09:04 authored by Norton, EI
Previous research suggests Instagram, a picture based social-networking site, is associated with obsessive healthy-eating (orthorexia) in females. This study aimed to build upon this research by using a cross-sectional approach to investigate the effect of exposure to popular Instagram users (micro-celebrities), Instagram health-related content (e.g. 'fitspiration'), and user characteristics on orthorexia. Australian adult female Instagram users (`N` = 206) completed online measures of orthorexia, exposure to Instagram micro-celebrities and fitspiration content, appearance comparisons, benign envy, perfectionism, Instagram connectedness, and Instagram investment. Multiple regression analysis revealed these variables predicted 42.2% of orthorexia behaviour, with significant predictors being benign envy, appearance comparison, and exposure to micro-celebrities. Users high in Instagram connectedness (feelings of social connection through the app) had significantly weaker orthorexia at higher levels of appearance comparisons. Overall, aspects of Instagram use, benign envy, and appearance comparison tendencies, might put some females at risk of developing orthorexia more than others. Results may also suggest that interventions that increase connection with others through Instagram might be successful in reducing harmful effects of Instagram appearance comparison for females, although further research is warranted to confirm this. Future research should investigate whether and how females derive a sense of connection through Instagram.
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