Meeting face to face vs. meeting on Facebook—new study on social anxiety

© Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

Nearly a billion people use Facebook, the largest social networking site, but interacting with someone on social media is not the same as meeting them in person. The results of a study to determine whether Facebook exposure increases or reduces arousal during initial face-to-face encounters, especially among socially anxious individuals, are presented in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

"Face to Face Versus Facebook: Does Exposure to Social Networking Web Sites Augment or Attenuate Physiological Arousal Among the Socially Anxious?" Shannon Rauch and colleagues, Benedictine University at Mesa, AZ and Providence College, RI, evaluated the study participants for their level of social anxiety and then exposed each of them to a person via Facebook, a face-to-face encounter, or both. During the exposures the researchers measured physiological arousal using the galvanic skin response measure.

"Results appear to indicate that initial exposure to an individual via Facebook may have a negative impact on consequent face-to-face encounters with that individual for those with high social anxiety," says Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCB, BCN, Editor-in-Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, from the Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, CA.

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

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