Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Developmental Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Danielle Law

Advisor Role

Supervised entire thesis


Social media influencers (SMIs) (defined as individuals who have 10,000 or more followers) are a group of people who garner attention and who seem to have an impact on thought and behaviour change on social media platforms. To date, it is unclear how much social media influencers influence emerging adults. Given that emerging adulthood is a developmental stage that includes exploration of self and offers more autonomy from one’s parents and is a time where social media is frequently used, it is important to explore how social media informs their decisions and choices. To explore this relationship, this research consists of two parts: Study 1 examined the specific ways emerging adults are influenced by SMIs, and Study 2 examined some of the individual (self-esteem, self-compassion, and mental health), technological (time spent on and engagement with social media platforms), parental (parent-child relationship quality), and peer (peer influence, sense of belonging, and friendship quality) factors that might predict the degree to which emerging adults are influenced by SMIs. Specifically, Study 1 used a mixed-methods approach to a) examine the kinds of content that influences the thoughts, behaviours, and beliefs/opinions of emerging adults, and b) develop a measure for assessing the degree to which emerging adults might be influenced by SMIs (Social Media Influencer Measure for Emerging Adults; SMI-EA). Study 2 used the measure from Study 1 to explore some of the factors that might impact degree of influence and how specific social-emotional factors (i.e., self-compassion, feelings of belonging) might moderate the relationship between self-esteem and SMI influence. Results indicated that feelings of belonging inversely moderated the relationship between self-esteem and SMI influence, such that individuals with increased self-esteem and decreased feelings of belonging were more influence than those with increased self-esteem and increased feelings of belonging. Increased self-esteem, anxiety, engagement with social media, time spent on social media, and the importance placed on feelings of belonging predicted increased SMI influence. Self-compassion, resistance to peer influence, and feelings of belonging were inversely related to SMI influence. This study highlights the relationship between social-emotional factors and how emerging adults make decisions – which can have implications for their sense of self and identity and their overall wellbeing; thus, informing prevention and/or intervention programs, or support counsellors, in guiding young people to better understand how they make decisions when they engage with SMI content.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season


Available for download on Saturday, August 23, 2025