Facebook is not such a good thing for those with low self-esteem

January 31, 2012 By Divya Menon

(Medical Xpress) -- In theory, the social networking website Facebook could be great for people with low self-esteem. Sharing is important for improving friendships. But in practice, people with low self-esteem seem to behave counterproductively, bombarding their friends with negative tidbits about their lives and making themselves less likeable, according to a new study which will be published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

“We had this idea that Facebook could be a really fantastic place for people to strengthen their relationships,” says Amanda Forest, a graduate student at the University of Waterloo. She cowrote the new study with her advisor, Joanne Wood. The two are generally interested in self-esteem, and how self-esteem affects the kinds of emotions people express. People with low self-esteem are often uncomfortable sharing face-to-face, but Facebook makes it possible to share remotely.

In one study, Forest and Wood asked students how they feel about Facebook. People with low self-esteem were more likely to think that Facebook provided an opportunity to connect with other people, and to perceive it as a safe place that reduces the risk of awkward social situations.

The researchers also investigated what students actually wrote on Facebook. They asked the students for their last 10 status updates, sentences like, “[Name] is lucky to have such terrific and is looking forward to a great day tomorrow!” and “[Name] is upset b/c her phone got stolen :@.” These are visible to their Facebook friends, the people in their network.

Each set of status updates was rated for how positive or negative it was. For each set of statements, a coder – an undergraduate Facebook user – rated how much they liked the person who wrote them.

People with low self-esteem were more negative than people with high self-esteem – and the coders liked them less. The coders were strangers, but that’s realistic, Forest says. In earlier research, Wood and Forest found that nearly half of Facebook friends are actually strangers or acquaintances, not close friends.

Forest and Wood also found that people with low self-esteem get more responses from their real Facebook friends when they post highly positive updates, compared to less positive ones. People with high self-esteem, on the other hand, get more responses when they post negative items, perhaps because these are rarer for them.

So people with low self-esteem may feel safe making personal disclosures on Facebook – but they may not be helping themselves. “If you’re talking to somebody in person and you say something, you might get some indication that they don’t like it, that they’re sick of hearing your negativity,” Forest says. But when people have a negative reaction to a post on Facebook, they seem to keep it to themselves. “On Facebook, you don’t see most of the reactions.”

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8 comments

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Xbw
1.7 / 5 (3) Jan 31, 2012
So nobody likes a Negative Nancy? No surprise there. Back when I had a facebook, I frequently would remove friends who posted nothing but whines and complaints.

Facebook isn't the first social gathering in the world. There used to be something called REAL LIFE in which the same rules applied. If you had a friend that was always acting emo, you would stop hanging out with him/her (unless you were also emo in which case, misery loves company).
Sinister1811
4 / 5 (1) Jan 31, 2012
Being emo is not the same thing as having a low self-esteem.
Deathclock
not rated yet Jan 31, 2012
That's why facebook needs a like AND DISLIKE option...
Xbw
1 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2012
http://en.wikiped...wiki/Emo

It is primarily a music that feeds negative and self depreciating emotion.
Corban
not rated yet Jan 31, 2012
Which one is a state and which one is a nature: being emo or having low self-esteem?
Xbw
1 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2012
Certain personality types are more prone to experiencing depression such as Melancholy and Choleric personalities.

I took an intriguing class on the 4 main personalities and you would be surprised at how much you learn.
The 4 Temperaments http://en.wikiped...eraments

And a simple test to see which ones you fall under most. http://www.writin...ent-Test
Xbw
1 / 5 (2) Jan 31, 2012
Ahh and upon taking that test, I realized one of the questions was Bible related. For those of you who despise religion, you may want to avoid the test. Sorry, I'm not sure why they snuck that in there.
Here is a more neutral but slightly simplified one. http://www.helloq...nts-test

Seems I am Phlegmatic with Choleric as my secondary.
Sinister1811
5 / 5 (1) Jan 31, 2012
I'm far from being popular on Facebook. And I also have a low self-esteem. According to this study - the two are linked. At least now I don't need to ponder why people don't talk to me. I'm probably on a bunch of hidden lists, which sucks. I don't get it, you know, it defeats the purpose of adding somebody as a "friend" and then just completely ignoring them or adding them to the hidden list. Facebook should change its name to FAKEbook. Since the only reason people will add you as a "friend" is to make it look like they have a higher sense of popularity.

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