Electronic Theses and Dissertations





Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Experimental Psychology

Committee Chair

Roger Kreuz

Committee Member

Stephanie Huette

Committee Member

Andrew Olney

Committee Member

Craig Stewart


Millions of people worldwide use online social networking sites (SNSs) such as Facebook and Twitter for interpersonal interaction and self-presentation. Theories of computer-mediated communication suggest that SNSs offer unique affordances and pose complex challenges to self-presentation (particularly in audience management) compared to face-to-face settings. One of the most fundamental ways in which people present themselves to others is through the use of language. The goal of the present work is to better understand language use in online self-presentation by exploring how the degree of concern people have about their self-presentation relates to their word choices in SNS posts (i.e., status updates and tweets). This study addressed three specific research questions. First, do people with greater self-presentation concern (SPC) differ from people with lower SPC in their use of words related to style, affect, and specific topics? Second, how do personality traits (i.e., the Big Five) mediate the relationships between SPC and language? Finally, does reminding people about specific types of audiences in their social networks (i.e., social vs. professional audiences) influence their language use and the amount of time they spend creating a post? To address these questions, I recruited Facebook and Twitter users to complete an online survey where they shared their most recent SNSs posts and wrote a new post under different audience reminder conditions. They also completed measures of SPC and personality. I used Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC2007) to measure the language in participants' posts along dimensions of style (i.e., pronouns), affect (i.e., emotion words and swear words), and topic (i.e., achievement, money, religion, and sexuality). The results revealed that SPC was not significantly related to language use along these dimensions. Although SPC was related to certain personality traits, these traits did not mediate the relationships between SPC and language use. Finally, reminding participants about social and professional audiences did not affect their language use or the amount of time they spent creating their posts. These results carry important implications for theoretical frameworks of online self-presentation and provide directions for future research on SPC and language use.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

dissertation or thesis originally submitted to the local University of Memphis Electronic Theses & dissertation (ETD) Repository.