Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology


Behavioral Sciences



First Advisor

Joseph Rossi


Social media has become a routine part of daily life, changing the ways people interact with one another. Prior research on social media in the field of psychology and communications has focused on the use of Facebook and Instagram, but little has focused on Snapchat, despite its fast growth and increasing popularity (Grieve, 2017). Thus, the current study examined how and why individuals use Snapchat. Undergraduate students (N=210) at the University of Rhode Island were recruited and asked to complete online surveys. Surveys examined background information, Snapchat activities and motives for use, as well as psychological factors like body image, self-compassion, self-esteem, and narcissism.

Regression and correlation analyses were run to examine the data. Participants’ open-ended responses were also coded to further explore the research questions. Some of the main findings are: that college students use Snapchat for relationship maintenance, self-promotion and companionship motives. Additionally, individuals’ differences seem to play a role in Snapchat use. While many of the original hypotheses were not supported, several surprising relationships were found and demonstrate that psychological factors relate to different motives. For example, positive relationships were found between body satisfaction and escape motives, between self-esteem and relationship maintenance, and between narcissism and passing time. Moreover, the analysis found these psychological factors relate to the use of Snapchat features. For example, positive relationships were found between narcissism and amount of friends, as well as between narcissism and frequency of posting stories. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed, as well as suggestions for future research.



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