The Pursuit of Virtual Happiness: Exploring the Social Media Experience across Generations

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Business Research


Social media environments can transform and reinforce life experiences, influencing self-concept and providing happiness. The goal of this research is to examine social media networking as an experiential phenomenon, wherein consumers pursue virtual happiness by satisfying the self-determination theory (SDT) needs of relatedness, competence, and autonomy. Beginning with the memory connection to self-concept, the study proposes an experiential outcome circle for social media to virtual happiness. A circle depicts the idea that self-concept motivates social media behavior, which influences the self-concept. Happiness, or affect balance, is a potential outcome of this connection. The study analyzes n = 504 social media networking participants using generational cohorts with fuzzy set qualitative comparative analysis (fsQCA). This study suggests the metaphors for each generation based on the following SDT recipes: (1) "we" for generation Y with relatedness and competence, (2) "me" for generation X, with autonomy and competence, and (3) "be" for baby boomers with competence. © 2017 Elsevier Inc.



UNLV article access

Search your library