Who uses social networking sites to monitor their romantic partners?

August 23, 2013
© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

With the widespread popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook, it is increasingly common for people to use interpersonal electronic surveillance to monitor the activities of current and former romantic partners. They can gather information on partners anonymously, view past and current photos and audio and video clips, and look for clues to explain any "suspicious" behaviors. Why some individuals engage in this type of behavior more than others is the subject of an article in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers.

The article "Social Networking Sites in Romantic Relationships: Attachment, Uncertainty, and Partner Surveillance on Facebook," describes a study to determine what individual characteristics might be predictive of using electronic surveillance to gather information about a romantic partner. Authors Jesse Fox, PhD, Ohio State University, Columbus, and Katie Warber, PhD, Wittenberg University, Springfield, OH, explored several variables including a partner's attachment style, the role of sex, and a partner's level of relationship anxiety, which is likely to be higher among more preoccupied and fearful individuals.

"Prior to social networking tools, it was more difficult to monitor a former partner's life," says Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Editor-in-Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, from the Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, CA. "While social networking provides many positives, the ability to conduct interpersonal may lead some individuals to suffer with prolonged feelings of uncertainty after a relationship ends. These results presented here should, however, be interpreted with caution, since the sample was comprised of heterosexual college students and may not extend to other groups."

More information: The article is available free on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking website.

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