Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Facebook profiles raise users' self-esteem and affect behavior

Date:
May 31, 2013
Source:
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Summary:
A Facebook profile is an ideal version of self, full of photos and posts curated for the eyes of family, friends and acquaintances. A new study shows that this version of self can provide beneficial psychological effects and influence behavior.

A Facebook profile is an ideal version of self, full of photos and posts curated for the eyes of family, friends and acquaintances. A new study shows that this version of self can provide beneficial psychological effects and influence behavior.

Catalina Toma, a UW-Madison assistant professor of communication arts, used the Implicit Association Test to measure Facebook users' self-esteem after they spent time looking at their profiles, the first time the social psychology research tool has been used to examine the effects of Facebook. The test showed that after participants spent just five minutes examining their own Facebook profiles, they experienced a significant boost in self-esteem. The test measures how quickly participants associate positive or negative adjectives with words such as me, my, I and myself.

"If you have high self-esteem, then you can very quickly associate words related to yourself with positive evaluations but have a difficult time associating words related to yourself with negative evaluations," Toma says. "But if you have low self-esteem, the opposite is true."

Toma opted to use the Implicit Association Test because it cannot be faked, unlike more traditional self-reporting tools.

"Our culture places great value on having high self-esteem. For this reason, people typically inflate their level of self-esteem in self-report questionnaires," she says. "The Implicit Association Test removes this bias."

Additionally, Toma investigated whether exposure to one's own Facebook profile affects behavior.

"We wanted to know if there are any additional psychological effects that stem from viewing your own self-enhancing profile," says Toma, whose work will be published in the June issue of Media Psychology. "Does engaging with your own Facebook profile affect behavior?"

The behavior examined in the study was performance in a serial subtraction task, assessing how quickly and accurately participants could count down from a large number by intervals of seven. Toma found that self-esteem boost that came from looking at their profiles ultimately diminished participants' performance in the follow-up task by decreasing their motivation to perform well.

After people spent time on their own profile they attempted fewer answers during the allotted time than people in a control group, but their error rate was not any worse. Toma says the results are consistent with self-affirmation theory, which claims that people constantly try to manage their feelings of self-worth.

"Performing well in a task can boost feelings of self-worth," Toma says. "However, if you already feel good about yourself because you looked at your Facebook profile, there is no psychological need to increase your self-worth by doing well in a laboratory task."

But Toma cautions against drawing broad conclusions about Facebook's impact on motivation and performance based on this particular study, as it examines just one facet of Facebook use.

"This study shows that exposure to your own Facebook profile reduces motivation to perform well in a simple, hypothetical task," she says. "It does not show that Facebook use negatively affects college students' grades, for example. Future work is necessary to investigate the psychological effects of other Facebook activities, such as examining others' profiles or reading the newsfeed."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Wisconsin-Madison. The original article was written by Jenny Price. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Catalina L. Toma. Feeling Better But Doing Worse: Effects of Facebook Self-Presentation on Implicit Self-Esteem and Cognitive Task Performance. Media Psychology, 2013; 16 (2): 199 DOI: 10.1080/15213269.2012.762189

Cite This Page:

University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Facebook profiles raise users' self-esteem and affect behavior." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 31 May 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130531114725.htm>.
University of Wisconsin-Madison. (2013, May 31). Facebook profiles raise users' self-esteem and affect behavior. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130531114725.htm
University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Facebook profiles raise users' self-esteem and affect behavior." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/05/130531114725.htm (accessed August 21, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Lost Brain Cells To Blame For Sleep Problems Among Seniors

Newsy (Aug. 21, 2014) According to a new study, elderly people might have trouble sleeping because of the loss of a certain group of neurons in the brain. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Do More Wedding Guests Make A Happier Marriage?

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) A new study found couples who had at least 150 guests at their weddings were more likely to report being happy in their marriages. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

Researcher Testing on-Field Concussion Scanners

AP (Aug. 19, 2014) Four Texas high school football programs are trying out an experimental system designed to diagnose concussions on the field. The technology is in response to growing concern over head trauma in America's most watched sport. (Aug. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins