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Social comparison, social anxiety, and television viewership

16 July 2013


The present study explored relationships between social anxiety, social comparison tendencies, and television viewership. The cultivation theory of mass communication posits that high levels of television viewership lead to distorted perceptions of social reality. Working from this theory, the current investigation aimed to test the hypothesis that high levels of television viewership lead to greater social comparison tendencies, which in turn increase social anxiety. Participants were 156 respondents to an online survey which included measures of participants’ social interaction anxiety, social comparison orientation, attention paid to social comparison information, and television viewership per day. Results indicated significant positive correlations between social anxiety and both television viewership and measures of social comparison. No significant associations were found between social comparison factors and television viewership. These findings suggest that while social anxiety and television viewership are related, this relationship cannot be accounted for by the effects of television on social comparison tendencies.


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