Development and initial validation of a social media identity distress scale




Luo, Ye

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Today, emerging adults (18-25 years of age; Arnett, 2000) encounter various degrees of identity distress and identity issues due to stressors such as prolonged schooling and career uncertainty (Samuolis & Griffin, 2014). As a fast-growing platform, social media serves as a convenient way for emerging adults to express and explore themselves. Social media also allows its users to conduct social comparisons (Festinger, 1954) online, which creates mental stress for emerging adults in addition to their identity distress. I define this mixture of stress Social Media Identity Distress (SMIDS). In order to help young adults cope with SMID, counselors should first have a valid tool to measure SMID. The current study aims at developing and validating an instrument measuring the mental stress regarding one’s ability to create a coherent self while conducting social media activities. I have collected data from two random samples on Amazon Turk. I used Sample 1 (n = 450) data to conduct an exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and Sample 2 (n = 297) data to perform a confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). To obtain the convergent validity, I used bivariate correlation analyses. Additionally, I have calculated internal consistency reliability (α) for the scale. The results yielded a 45-item scale explaining 74.4% variances with a reasonable model fit. Moreover, SMIDS has good psychometric properties (α = .99). I plan to submit the manuscript to the Measurement and Evaluation in Counseling and Development journal because it is noted for publishing articles regarding measurement in counseling, which matches well with the aim of the current study. The development of SMIDS enables counselors to focus on the potential impact of social media on their clients, which could accelerate the treatment progress. Further, counselor educators can introduce SMIDS to counseling trainees to help them understand the impact of technology in the counseling process. In future research, researchers could seek to obtain validation evidence by using SMIDS among other populations, acquire qualitative data to provide more clarity for the construct, and breviate the scale via scientific ways.



emerging adults, factor analysis, identity distress, social media



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