Desires and disclosures: Understanding the desire to post on social media
University of New Brunswick
While the uptake and integration of social media into our daily lives has been well-documented, little is known about the desire to post on social media even though that it presumably a critical first step preceding use, as indicated by the model of goaldirected behavior. This dissertation sought to develop and validate a measure of the desire to post on social media among Canadian and American social media users. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses revealed four key dimensions of the desire to post on social media: desire to post due to negative events in one’s life, desire to post due to positive events, frequent desire to post, and desire to publicly post in ways that depict oneself in a favorable light. No gender or age differences were observed. During the COVID-19 outbreak, people have relied more heavily on social media than ever before to maintain social connections while remaining physically distant. Consequently, people may desire to use these sites more than they did before the pandemic based on uses and gratification theory and the instrumentality principle. Changes in desiring to post on social media before (Fall 2019) and during the pandemic (June 2020) were assessed using a large cross-sectional sample of Canadian and American social media users. Overall scores on the desire to post tool did not differ between these two time periods; however, the desire to post when experiencing positive events and the frequency with which people desired to post decreased during COVID-19. Correlation comparisons revealed the correlation between the desire to post when experiencing negative events and the desire to publicly and positively self-present had become stronger during COVID-19, as did the correlation between this negative events scale and the frequency with which people desired to post. These findings highlight how desiring to post on social media changes in response to extraneous circumstances (e.g., not being able to socialize in person). These findings have implications for researchers studying online posting behaviors, including self-disclosure of private information and uptake of new technologies, as well as for clinicians working with clients experiencing distress, social isolation, or problematic social media use.