Facebook, the ultimate social networking site is being used by millions of users world wide providing them with many benefits. Not just for the sake of entertainment, but it is also used for marketing, online shopping, publicity etc. Many of them believe that an individuals Facebook profile is an ideal way to estimate that person.
Now don’t scream at your child if he is a Facebook addict, as it has some positive aspects too. A recent study shows that by looking at a persons his or her own Facebook profile will boost up his/her confidence levels and can provide many useful psychological effects and influence behavior.
For the first time, the social psychology research tool has been used to inspect the effects of Facebook. By using the Implicit Association Test, Catalina Toma, a UW-Madison assistant professor of communication arts, estimated Facebook users’ self-esteem after they spent time looking at their profiles.
The test measures how quickly the participants connect with the positive or negative adjectives like me,my, I and Myself and shows that there is a significant raise in self-esteem of the participants who examined their own facebook profile for just about five minutes. One can quickly associate words related to them with positive evaluations rather than with negative evaluations if the person has a high self-esteem.
Researcher used the Implicit Association Test because it is not faked and biased like the conventional self-reporting tools. Hence, the results of this test can be considered as prominent and unbiased. Besides this, Toma also inquired whether exposure to one’s own Facebook profile will impact behavior.
The behavior that was examined in the test was the performance in a serial subtraction task, evaluating the speed and accuracy of the participants in counting down from a large number by intervals of seven.
Toma found that self-esteem boost that came from looking at their profiles finally decreased participants performance in the follow-up task by reducing their motivation to perform well. After spending some time on their own profile, participants attempted fewer answers in the time allotted to them than people in a control group.
The results are constant with the theory of self-affirmation, which contend that people at every instance 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.”
Though, the researcher is pretty confident about this study, she also says that drawing wider conclusions about the impact of Facebook profile and the motivation it provides should not be drawn based upon this single research as it examines only one side of Facebook use.
The study does not show that exposure to Facebook profile negatively affects a college students grades. However, further future work is necessary to examine the psychological effects of Facebook activities, such as reading the newsfeed, checking others Facebook profiles etc.
The study will be published in the June issue of Media Psychology.