Only other people post food photos on Facebook: Third-person perception of social media behavior and effects

Giang V. Pham, Matthew Shancer, Michelle R. Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Two studies were conducted to examine user perceptions of content effects and behavior on social media. Study 1 employed interviews with Millennials and Baby-Boomers (N = 17) and found that some behaviors on Facebook were seen as undesirable (e.g., excessively posting photos of food). Users held third-person perceptions (TPP) such that they believed that they personally posted content on Facebook less frequently than others did, especially pertaining to undesirable content. A follow-up online survey in Study 2 (N = 140) showed empirical support for the distinction between desirable and undesirable behaviors on Facebook in user perceptions. TPP was found for all undesirable behaviors, but first-person perception (FPP) emerged for some desirable behaviors on Facebook. Results also indicated users' TPP in the perceived effects of content including news, advertisements, and brand communications on Facebook, with social distance moderating TPP's magnitude (i.e., TPP increases as the distance of the comparison group from self increases). Overall, the two studies suggest that there exists a robust self-other discrepancy in the perceived effects of media content and the frequency of behavior on social media. These findings contribute to the understanding of TPP and FPP, especially with regard to judgment of social media impact and behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)129-140
Number of pages12
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
StatePublished - Apr 2019


  • Facebook
  • First-person perception
  • Social desirability
  • Social distance
  • Social media
  • Third-person perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Psychology(all)


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