Institute of Art Design + Technology
Dún Laoghaire

Lillian Boylan 

MSc Cyberpsychology

My name is Lillian (Lily) Boylan. I am 27 years old. I completed a BA in Psychology in Maynooth University in 2018. Since then, I have worked in retail and volunteered with Childline. I always wanted to return to education, and I was drawn to a MSc in Cyberpsychology. Within my undergrad and throughout my experience with Childline, I had a keen interest in how we are affected by technology, the internet, and social media use. In my future career, I hope to enter a field where I can implement all that I have learned throughout this wonderful course.

Project Description

BeReal is a social media platform where users are spontaneously notified to post an ephemeral photograph, viewable until the following day. In comparison to Instagram, there is little research into how and why people use BeReal. 67 participants who use both BeReal and Instagram were recruited using convenience sampling (51 female, 15 male, and one other gender identity), ranging in age from 18 to 32. The mixed-methods online study used the Authentic Self Subscale of the Presentation of Online Self Scale for Adults (Strimbu et al., 2021), which was adapted to measure self-perceived authenticity for BeReal and Instagram. It was hypothesised that participants would self-present more authentically on BeReal than on Instagram. Leveraging on Uses and Gratifications Theory (Katz et al., 1973), the qualitative component of the study asked open-ended questions to explore the motivations behind BeReal and Instagram use.

Project Outcomes

The results of the study indicated that participants that use both BeReal and Instagram present a more authentic self on BeReal than on Instagram. This finding gives an insight into self-presentation on BeReal and supports previous research, which suggests that Instagram is a more curated platform. The study found that there were several common motivations underlying BeReal and Instagram use, including ‘self-promotion’, ‘surveillance’, and ‘social interaction’. However, there were some differences in themes, with ‘convenience utility’ and ‘peer influence’ noted for BeReal only, and ‘information seeking’ noted for Instagram only. Furthermore, differences were observed within the theme of ‘social interaction’, with participants reporting ‘parasocial interaction’ as a motivation for use of Instagram, in contrast to BeReal, where participants interact with an intimate social group. Findings from this study give an insight into how and why individuals use BeReal and Instagram.

Thesis Title

Time to BeReal: Self-Perceived Authenticity Among SNS Users Across Platforms.