Young adults construct their identities on Instagram through strategic self-presentation and perceived audience reactions. Through interviews with college students, this study analyzes the platform’s significance and the motivations driving user engagement. Findings reveal a complex interplay between individual identity, societal norms, and digital presentation. Participants demonstrate a desire for authenticity while managing perceptions of their online personas. However, this duality indicates a need to understand if virtual presentations of the self can yield the same identity-affirming reactions as in-person audiences. Instagram serves as a stage for idealized self-performance, with users balancing authenticity and conformity. This study highlights evolving social norms and the need for ongoing research into Instagram's impact on identity formation.

Type of Work

Thesis - Limited Access

Department or Program



Hamilton College


Bachelor of Arts

Date of Graduation


Faculty Advisor

Stephen Ellingson, Jaime Kucinskas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.