Facebook generates feel good factor

June 27th, 2012 - 4:09 pm ICT by IANS  

Facebook Washington, June 27 (IANS) People love social networks, which is quite obvious from Facebook’s 900 million active users and its reputation as one of the most visited websites, second only to Google.

New research finds what people may really “like” about social networking are themselves. “Despite the name ’social networks’, much user activity on networking sites is self-focused,” said Brittany Gentile, University of Georgia doctoral candidate who looked at the effects of social networks on self-esteem and narcissism.

The 526 million people who log on to Facebook every day may be boosting their self-esteem in the process, the journal Computers in Human Behaviour reports.

Gentile, along with Keith Campbell, psychology professor at Georgia San Diego State University professor Jean Twenge, asked 151 college students, aged 18 to 22 years, who also completed Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI), as a part of the study, to either edit their social networking page on MySpace or Facebook or to use Google Maps.

Those who edited their MySpace page later scored higher on a measure of narcissism, while those who spent time on their Facebook page scored higher on self-esteem, according to a Georgia statement.

“Editing yourself and constructing yourself on these social networking sites, even for a short period of time, seems to have an effect on how you see yourself,” said Campbell, who heads the department of psychology at the Georgia Franklin College of Arts and
Sciences and co-authored the book “The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement.”

“They are feeling better about themselves in both cases. But in one they are tapping into narcissism and in the other into self-esteem,” added Campbell.

MySpace reported 25 million users as of June 2012. MySpace users participated in the experiment in 2008, when the site had 115 million active users. Facebook users participated in 2011. On both MySpace and Facebook, students scoring higher in narcissism reported having more friends on the site.

“The NPI measures trait narcissism, which is a stable personality trait,” Gentile said. “But spending 15 minutes editing a MySpace page and writing about its meaning was enough to alter self-reports of this trait, suggesting that social networking sites may be a significant influence on the development of personality and identity.”

The differences in site format may be one reason why MySpace led to higher narcissism whereas Facebook merely produced higher self-esteem.

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