Objective, subjective, and accurate reporting of social media use: No evidence that daily social media use correlates with personality traits, motivational states, or well-being


There is a lively debate on the effects of social media use, shaped by self-reported measurements of social media use. However, self-reports have been shown to suffer from low accuracy compared to logged measures of social media use. Even though it is unclear how problematic that measurement error is for our inferences, many scholars call for the exclusive use of “objective&” measures. But if measurement error is not systematic, self-reports will still be informative. In contrast, if there is systematic error, associations between social media use and other variables, including well-being, are likely biased. Here, we report an exploratory 5 day experience sampling study among 96 participants (435 observations) to understand factors that could relate to low accuracy. First, we asked what stable individual differences are related to low accuracy. Second, we explored what daily states relate to accuracy. Third, we explored whether accuracy relates to well-being. Although we did find evidence for a systematic tendency to overestimate social media use, neither individual differences nor daily states were related to that tendency. Accuracy was also unrelated to well-being. Our results suggest that blindly calling for objective measures foregoes a responsibility to understand measurement error in social media use first.

Technology, Mind, and Behavior