Blaming Facebook is a popular train of thought, also for scientists. They already conducted many studies on the psychological effects of the social network, most of them negative. While some researchers used experiments, others just gathered information through questionnaires, thus making it impossible to tell whether Facebook use influenced emotions or emotions influenced Facebook use.
1. Facebook drives you crazy
In the Israel Journal of Psychiatry and Related Sciences Dr. Uri Nitzan describes three of his patients as they experience pscychotic episodes while using Facebook. In NY Daily News he explains that the three patients did not have a pscyhotic history but were vulnerable because of seperation or loss of a loved one. Their at first comforting Facebook relationships eventually turned into negative influences when they started having delusions about the connection through the computer.
2. Facebook decreases loneliness
German researchers studied the effects of posting on Facebook, by conducting an experiment . They asked some subjects to post more than normally and others to carry on using Facebook as they pleased. They then asked about the feelings of both participant groups. It turned out that deliberately posting more decreased the subject’s loneliness, because it made them feel more connected to their friends, regardless of how many reactions they received.
3. Facebook makes people think others have better lives
Two researchers from the University of Utah discovered through questionnaires that those who have used Facebook longer agree more that others are happier, and agree less that life is fair. Furthermore, those that include more people whom they do not personally know as their Facebook “friends” agree more that others have better lives.
4. Facebook causes distress through diminished self-esteem
Two researchers from the University of Texas looked at the impact of Facebook on feelings of distress. They found a direct negative impact on distress, and an indirect impact through information overload and reduced self-esteem.
5. Facebook enhances self-esteem
Two scientists from New York found that selective self-presentation in digital media may enhance self-esteem. ‘Becoming self-aware by viewing one’s own Facebook profile enhances self-esteem rather than diminishes it’, they write. Participants that updated their profiles and viewed their own profiles during the experiment also reported greater self-esteem
6. Facebook ruins romance
A survey of a group of American researchers shows that more facebook use is associated with more negative relationship outcomes. This was only the case for relatively new relationships.
7. Facebook influences people’s dealing with break-up
Stephanie Tom Tong investigated what happened after a romantic break-up. She writes that partners may take advantage of the system’s information visibility and the relative invisibility of movement. This depens on relational factors, social factors (perceived network approval of Facebook surveillance), and individual privacy concerns.
8. Facebook obstructs people’s personal growth after break-up
Tara C. Marshall investigated what the effect of this surveillance behavior is on the emotional state of the persons involved. She found that people that did not stay facebook friends with their former partner reported less negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for the former partner, but lower personal growth. In this particular case Facebook may thus ‘obstruct the process of healing and moving on from a past relationship’
Before you delete your profile, realize that Facebook is just communication. Any form of communication between humans is very complex, so you can find in it all kinds of effects and associations.
Photo: Flickr, Wade Morgen
Source: NY Daily News
Fenne große Deters, & Matthias R. Mehl (2013). Does Posting Facebook Status Updates Increase or Decrease Loneliness? An Online Social Networking Experiment Social Psychological and Personality Science DOI: 10.1177/1948550612469233
Stephanie Tom Tong (2012). Facebook Use During Relationship Termination: Uncertainty Reduction and Surveillance Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0549
Tara C. Marshall (2012). Facebook Surveillance of Former Romantic Partners: Associations with PostBreakup Recovery and Personal Growth Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0125
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Gonzales AL, & Hancock JT (2011). Mirror, mirror on my Facebook wall: effects of exposure to Facebook on self-esteem. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking, 14 (1-2), 79-83 PMID: 21329447
Chou HT, & Edge N (2012). “They are happier and having better lives than I am”: the impact of using Facebook on perceptions of others’ lives. Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking, 15 (2), 117-21 PMID: 22165917
Nitzan U, Shoshan E, Lev-Ran S, & Fennig S (2011). Internet-related psychosis−a sign of the times. The Israel journal of psychiatry and related sciences, 48 (3), 207-11 PMID: 22141146
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