What is it about?

Online social networks (OSNs) create fertile ground for upward social comparisons followed by feelings of envy. However, there is a lack of understanding of the responses to envy in OSNs. Does the envy provoked by upward social comparisons affect people’s intention to share information? Through two different studies, we explore and demonstrate how people’s intention to share information are more affected by feelings of envy in an online setting than in an offline setting.

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Why is it important?

Our findings show that benefits can be derived from offering tools that permit receivers to take advantage of the selective self-presentation of other social network users. Our research recommends (a) incorporating tools that allow online social network users to feel part of their network's successes, (b) promoting offline diffusion of information, and (c) encouraging people to play an active role when using online social networks.

Perspectives

I hope this article helps people to understand the crucial role of feelings of envy in what we think and what we do. We cannot escape our feelings, but a better comprehension of them can be an incredibly useful tool to improve our social relationships, especially when those relationships are through online social networks.

Ana Suárez Vázquez
University of Oviedo

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This page is a summary of: Others' fortune in online vs offline settings: how envy affects people's intention to share information, Internet Research, February 2021, Emerald, DOI: 10.1108/intr-10-2019-0412.
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