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Social Media and its impact on men's self-concept

Methods - Participant Sampling, Secondary Research, Semi-structured interviews, Focus Groups, Card Sorting, COM-B, Affinity Diagramming, SME Interview, Variables for Persona, Persona, HMW Statements, Evaluation Matrix, Insight Generation

Hunt Statement

to explore how Indian men of age group 25-34 deal and struggle with their self-concept and the impact of social media like Instagram and LinkedIn on it

Problem Space

The self-concept is a general term for how someone thinks about, evaluates, or perceives themselves. 

It has three different components:

  • Self- Image - The view you have of yourself

  • Self- Esteem/Worth - How much value you place on yourself

  • Ideal Self - What you wish you 

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Social media can adversely affect an individual's self-concept. The maximum number of LinkedIn and Instagram users fall under the age group pf 20-34. 

Culture and gender influenced the way the self-concept is influenced and developed.

- Principles of Social Psychology

Hence, the target group of Indian men from the age group of 25-34 was chosen

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UX Vision

Before taking you through my process, I want to first share the UX Vision statement that was generated at the end of my research process

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Design Principles

Grown     Assured      Worthy      Optimistic

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My Process


Known Knowns & Unknowns

To direct my research and to get a clear idea about what I knew, what I was aware of but did not understand and what I didn't know I used the method of known, knowns and unknowns. This guided my research questions

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Research Questions

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Secondary Research (Phase 1)

I did the both the secondary and primary research in phases. This 1st phase of secondary research was done to have a strong topic foundation, explore new information and shape questions for primary research

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I listened to multiple podcasts around similar topics and made notes. Basis of these notes, I further researched more by reading journal paper and articles. 

Kintsugi is a Japanese art which is about embracing imperfections

-BBC, Digital Human, Ep: Flawless

Social media lacks new forms of emotional expression

-BBC, Digital Human, Ep: Numb


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While reading through a book I came across this activity to find out how the individuals defined themselves in 5 words. I used this activity during primary research with the participants 

Also found that ' Ideal Self' was the most prominent aspect in adulthood that impacted the overall self-concept. 

Primary Research (Phase 1)

The sampling used was purposive. Ethics was considered before conducting research with the participants

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Self- Identity Activity

Card Sorting

To understand how they define themselves as individuals and to put them in a self-reflective mindset

This was done in the middle. Questions around social media and positives and negatives about self were asked

To understand how they felt & categorized activities of social media into different emotions. Done in the end

Semi-Structured Interviews

Data Analysis (Phase 1)

Affinity Diagramming

Even though the participants were above the age 25, through connecting the data it was found that the things they heard in their childhood influenced their notion of ideal self

Some main themes around user needs were formed on basis of what users said about themselves and their social media use

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Some findings from the card sorting were:

  • Positive outlook = Motivated by others

  • Self-critical outlook = Anxious/ Self-Doubt due to others

  • Good things can lead to self-doubt as well

Through the self-identity activity it was clear that some participants weren't very self-reflective as some took a lot of time to describe themselves.

Secondary Research (Phase 2)

Certain findings from the primary research made me curious about more terms and hence I again did secondary research

I came across self-compassion and found that focusing on increasing self-compassion can be a healthier way to positive self concept than focusing on increasing one's self-esteem 

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Because self-esteem increases by feeling better about oneself than others, hence it can have negative effect like putting other down or not feeling great when certain goal is not achieved

Whereas self-compassion is about considering oneself as a part of humanity and being mindful while embracing one's journey. People who have negative self-concept often times do not practice self-compassion.

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Insight Generation (Phase 1)

Using the data from the all three methods of primary research and secondary research I narrowed down some findings (What it means) and generated insights from it (Why it matters?)

What it means

They like knowing about how are they doing better because they feel the JOURNEY of self-growth is important. (Tangible changes make them feel they have grown)

Why it matters

To assure oneself about their self- growth, tracking the self-growth is essential

What it means

People have a particular notion about their ideal self because of hearing certain opinions since their childhood

Why it matters

Others opinions of ideal state might not be applicable for one’s own happiness and this makes them feel worthless about themselves.

What it means

Helping others make people happy and increases their self-worth

Why it matters

People often struggle with when and how to help and seek help

Gap- It was still unclear what people with positive self-concept do, how and why. To fill in these gaps I decided to do a focus group session

Persona Building


To generate a persona based on the collected data I used variables. This helped me identify what and how frequent my participants did certain activity and how majority of them felt.

The participants were assigned stickers to make the analysis easier and fun.

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Primary Research (Phase 2)

Focus Group

Participants were shown the findings+insights from interviews and secondary research.

They were asked about what they do + why to have a healthy self-concept and mindset

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Focus Group Analysis


Using the COM-B Model categorized the information to know how I can create more capability, opportunity and motivation through my solution

It helped me to identify key things that my solution SHOULD have and what my previous participants lacked

Some interesting findings:

Outlet for negative emotions
Exploring different avenues
Regular self-reflection
Having positive people around
Only positive content consumption

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As I wanted to about the current solutions for negative self-concept I interviewed a subject matter expert

Primary Research (Phase 3)

SME Interview

SME interview was done to get an expert opinion and the methods that therapists use in these cases. Also to get feedback on my insights and the direction I was going in

Some interesting findings:

Encourage self-expression through small things
CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
SBT (Solution Based Therapy)
Challenging negative thoughts

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Insight Generation (Phase 2)

New Insights were generated by combining the data of the focus groups+ SME interview with the other existing data

Insight 4

Having an outlet to express negative emotions helps coming back to feeling positive emotions sooner

Insight 5

People do not have time for and interest in self-reflection

Insight 6

Men lack social circle where they can have open communication while learning from other’s experiences

As I couldn't generate a concrete UX vision with the help of these insights I decided to create HMW statements 

How Might We?

I generated HMW statements for each insight and then used the evaluation matrix to identify the impactful ones

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What would I  do differently in the future?

  • Use more creative research methodologies to generate in-depth answers

  • Ask more 'Why?' to the answers

  • Control the answering time during interviews

  • Plan activities like focus groups well in advance

Why solving this problem is important?

If the outcome of becoming happier individuals having positive self-concept is not achieved, it can have the follow implications-

Low Self-Esteem

Self-Imposed Limitations

Impaired Relationships

Mental Health Issues

we do not simply sit and wait for our self-concept to develop: we take an active role in shaping our self-concept at all ages

-the theory of self concept

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Self-Esteem that forms self-concept is a DEFICIANCY NEED in Maslow's hierarchy

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Next Steps

Thank You for reading

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