News / USA

Study: Heavy Facebook Users Less Happy

On one of the most popular social networking sites Facebook, people tend to present themselves in a favorable way on their profile. Survey concludes  some question if others are happier, have better lives.
On one of the most popular social networking sites Facebook, people tend to present themselves in a favorable way on their profile. Survey concludes some question if others are happier, have better lives.
Mana Rabiee

Research over the past several years shows that heavy users of social media tend to be less happy than non-users.  But a new academic study now suggests that social media tools like Facebook can also affect how we perceive the happiness of others. 

Students at George Mason University in Virginia were asked how many friends they have on Facebook. “Um, I’ve never actually stopped and looked at it. Probably somewhere between 350 and 400,” responded one student. Another stated, “I would definitely be on Facebook all the time and be like ‘Wow, she’s here, he’s there’.” Finally, a student noted, “I’m a heavy user. I rely a lot on it.  I find myself checking it multiple times a day."


Researchers at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah wanted to see if all that time watching people on Facebook affected how users saw - not themselves - but others.

They asked 425 undergraduates if other people have better and happier lives.  
Then they surveyed those students on their use of Facebook - looking at how long they had been Facebook users or how many hours a week they spend following Facebook friends.

They found the students who were more involved with Facebook were more likely to think other people’s lives were happier and better. This was especially true among students who included more strangers on their Facebook accounts.

Psychologist Tod Kashdan studies happiness and well-being at George Mason University and has read the Utah findings. “They’re hearing all these great things happening from other people and they’re making a downward comparison to themselves. They’re viewing themselves as ‘My life isn’t as interesting or satisfying as other people’s lives look like’,” he explained.

The authors of the Utah study say the results may be due to a psychological effect called “correspondence bias”.

That’s when we make judgments about someone based on their disposition or personality while ignoring their actual life circumstances.

In the case of Facebook use, it’s easy to assume Facebook friends are always as happy as they appear on their profiles because they are not posting negative attributes or events, only positive ones.  

These students say they had similar feelings about what they saw on Facebook during high-school but that, in college, they are more aware of the effect it has on them.

“I give people the impression that my life is perfect and there’s nothing wrong with it when there is so much [wrong], so it’s really false," Nicolle May stated. "It’s like someone else completely with my face.”

“I’m aware that whatever people posted on Facebook isn’t necessarily what their entire life is made of. I feel like people put a fake picture of themselves and try to make themselves look a lot better than they actually are in real life when they're on-line,” Maram Mohamed said.

Psychologists say Facebook and other social media can be valuable tools to connect with people and the world.  But that assurance does come with a warning. “Don’t spend a lot of time just looking at other people’s positive events. Share your own and see who are your true friends, who really cares for the things that happen to you,” Kashdan stated.

Psychologists also say Facebook users can lessen the effects highlighted in the Utah study by focusing on their real friends on Facebook, and not on the “Facebook friends” they may hardly even know.


You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid