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Feeling Down? Facebook Improves Self-Esteem

facebook happiness . / Credit: Happy Image via Shutterstock

Feeling down in the dumps and looking for a pick me up? 

You may want to check your Facebook profile.

That advice follows from new research showing that Facebook profiles help reassure people's self-worth and feelings about themselves.     

"The conventional wisdom is that Facebook use is merely a time sink and leads to an assortment of negative consequences. But our research shows that it can be a psychologically meaningful activity that supplies a sense of well-being at a relatively deep level," said co-author Jeff Hancock, Cornell professor of communication and computer and information science.

"The extraordinary amount of time people spend on Facebook may be a reflection of its ability to satisfy ego needs that are fundamental to the human condition."

To prove this, Hancock and co-author Catalina Toma, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, examined how participants reacted to negative feedback they received after giving a speech. In two separate experiments, after receiving negative feedback, participants not only were more likely to check their own Facebook profiles, but were also less defensive after doing so.

"As a widely available, everyday source of self-affirmation, Facebook appears to be a useful instrument in people's efforts to preserve self-worth and self-integrity," said Hancock.

Researchers say that Facebook gives that boost because users can display personal characteristics and relationships that they value the most.  Additionally, Facebook helps to remind users of their values, goals and personal relationships. These findings take on even more significance considering the 1 billion active Facebook users worldwide. Additionally, more and more users now lead a greater portion of their lives online. 

"Perhaps online daters who are anxious about being single or recently divorced may find comfort in the process of composing or reviewing their online profiles, as it allows them to reflect on their core values and identity," Hancock said. "Students who are feeling stressed about upcoming exams might similarly find solace in their social networking site and profiles.

The research, which was based on two experiments analyzing 88 undergraduates, was published in the March 2013 edition of the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 

Email David Mielach or follow him @D_M89. Follow us @bndarticlesFacebook or Google+.

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