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Design • Social Media • Narrative • 2023


Shining a Light on Self-Consciousness

Concept Overview

This Instagram post tells a relatable tale about a young woman suffering from self-consciousness. To help learners get comfortable in their own skin, this story aims to shine a light upon the cognitive bias known as the spotlight effect.

Statement of Need

Many young people struggle with low self-esteem, hiding their authentic selves out of fear of judgment. This fear is often unwarranted and can usually be attributed to a cognitive bias known as the spotlight effect, in which people overestimate how much others pay attention to them (Gilovich, Medvec & Savitsky, 2000). Through this Instagram post, young people can reflect upon the role of the spotlight effect in their own lives and realize their worries about judgment are unjustified.


Gilovich, T., Medvec, V. H., & Savitsky, K. (2000). The spotlight effect in social judgment: an egocentric bias in estimates of the salience of one's own actions and appearance. Journal of personality and social psychology, 78(2), 211–222.    

Concept Description

In this multi-photo Instagram post, a young woman wearing bright plaid pants is self-conscious as she walks through a park. In the first photo, as the woman notices people peering and pointing in her direction, she assumes they are making fun of her. Scrolling to the second photo, the real conversations of the people in the park appear on screen; no one in the park is paying any attention to the woman or her pants. The woman’s beliefs can be explained by the psychological phenomenon known as the spotlight effect, in which she is overestimating how much others are noticing her. The last two photos explain the spotlight effect and encourage learners to be themselves. In all likelihood, others aren’t even watching. It is a short but sweet story for young people, suited well for social media. It could be posted on various accounts, such as those dedicated to providing mental health information, psychology facts, or inspirational posts.

Target Audience

The target learners for this project are ​English-speaking teens to young adults, approx. 16-24:

This range encompasses those who are likely to struggle with self-esteem issues, as well as those likely to frequent Instagram. Self-esteem issues are not confined to individuals in any specific geographic location, so beyond a potential language barrier, learners from anywhere around the world could find value in this project.

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