Post image for Facebook provides quick ego-boost, says Cornell study

Facebook provides quick ego-boost, says Cornell study

by nickj on March 2, 2011

A new Cornell University study has found a positive psychological boost associated with Facebook, according to Fast Company News.

The research was conducted by two researchers at Cornell's Social Media Lab, Jeffrey Hancock and Amy Gonzales, who looked at 63 students.

The students sat in front of a computer screen for three minutes each, with some shown a screen open to their Facebook profiles, some shown a blank screen – with the computer turned off – and some sitting in front of a screen with a mirror placed in front of it.

After three minutes, the students' self-esteem levels were measured through a questionnaire. Those who had seen their Facebook profiles, walls and photo albums reported higher self-esteem than both of the control groups.

"Unlike a mirror, which reminds us of who we really are and may have a negative effect on self-esteem if that image does not match with our ideal, Facebook can show a positive version of ourselves. We're not saying that it's a deceptive version of self, but it's a positive one," Hancock told the Cornell Chronicle Online.

Hancock also said that the new results contradict a wide assumption that internet use is unhealthy.

"By providing multiple opportunities for selective self-presentation — through photos, personal details and witty comments — social-networking sites exemplify how modern technology sometimes forces us to reconsider previously understood psychological processes," said Gonzales, the other lead researcher, who is now a scholar at the University of Pennsylvania.

Interestingly, another recent study conducted in Scotland reports a negative psychological effect associated with Facebook, according to WHEC-TV in Rochester. In that study, the researchers claimed that having hundreds of Facebook friends was stressful and not unlike "a gambling addiction."

The Scottish researchers say that the average person is emotionally capable of about two or three truly close friends, compared to the hundreds of "friends" one can have on Facebook, according to the news source. 

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