Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

R. Bruce Thompson, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Rebecca Nistetich, Ph.D.


Psychology, Honors, Social Media, Identity Management


Social media platforms have captured and transformed the social experience. Though media content is unique for each platform, all social media sites share some level of anonymity, asynchronous communication, and absence of non-verbal social cues. This environment provides a landscape where users can not only exercise a more conscious management and presentation of self, but are also able to explore creative identity formation processes. This study investigates the ways that users engage with social media platforms and the impact such engagement has on personal identity management. Methods consisted of distributing a personality inventory based on the widely accepted NEO-P-IR. Participants were also asked to self-report their current social media habits including which platform they use most frequently, and an approximation of the cumulative time they spend using all social media sites. A subset of those respondents participated in interviews that explored their responses deeper. Data suggests that social media users will maintain accounts on both an identifiable and more anonymous platform, using each site for different identity performances. Qualitative analyses have yielded usage themes such as: ease of relationship maintenance, political signaling, and information seeking. Because social media is used by a large percentage of the global population, it is crucial that the growing field of cyberpsychology continues research into the motivations of social media users to engage in content creation.