Michael A. Stefanone of the University at Buffalo, Derek Lackaff of the University of Texas at Austin and Devan Rosen of the University of Hawaii examined the amount of time study subjects spent managing their online social media profiles, photo shared, online network size and how promiscuous they were.
Self-esteem or self-worth was measured using the CSW Scale -- contingencies of self worth.
The study, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, found that contingencies of self-worth explained much of the social behavior exhibited online.
The study involved 311 participants -- with an average age of 23.3 years and 49.8 percent of whom were female -- who completed a questionnaire measuring their contingencies of self worth and their typical Facebook behaviors.
"Those whose self esteem is defined as others' approval, physical appearance and outdoing others in competition -- were more involved in online photo sharing," Stefanone said in a statement. "Participants whose self worth is based on academic competence, family love, support and being a virtuous or moral person spend less time online and social media are less about attention seeking behavior.
"It is disappointing to me that in the year 2011 so many young women continue to assert their self worth via their physical appearance -- in this case, by posting photos of themselves on Facebook as a form of advertisement," Stefanone said.