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    The Psychology of Facebook

    FacebookThese days it seems as if everyone is on Facebook. According to statistics published by the company, there are more than 500 million active users, and combined, they spend over 700 billion minutes per month on the site. As for contacts—or “friends,” as Facebook calls them—the average Facebook user has 130.

    Given the popularity of Facebook, it’s no wonder that researchers have begun studying the psychology behind this social networking tool. Here are some of the research studies that have been conducted about Facebook members and their usage of the site:

    • A 2008 study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found a correlation between the number of Facebook friends/wall posts and narcissism, a personality trait associated with an inflated view of oneself.
    • It’s apparently not uncommon for Facebook users to have former romantic or sexual partners as Facebook friends, but this practice can lead to jealousy. A 2009 study found that Facebook reinforces jealousy-related feelings and behaviors among those who are already prone to it.
    • Again on the subject of narcissism, a 2010 study involving a small sample of college students found a correlation between narcissistic traits and the number of times Facebook is checked per day, as well as the amount of time spent on the site. Those scoring high on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory spent more time on Facebook.
    • A 2010 study in the journal Psychological Science looked at whether Facebook users display authentic or idealized versions of themselves on Facebook. The researchers looked at the Big Five personality traits (openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeable, and neuroticism) of Facebook users and compared these traits to the content of their Facebook profiles. What the researchers found was that the users’ profiles seemed to match their personality traits, which leads us to believe that, contrary to what one might assume, people tend to display rather realistic versions of themselves on Facebook.

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    3 Responses to “The Psychology of Facebook”

    1. Naysayer says:

      Sorry, that actually isn’t a good point. If anything, the fact that there is still a correlation between narcissism and the number of FB friends suggests that the relationship is indeed meaningful.

      (Of course correlation does not necessarily imply causation, blah blah blah.)

    2. Rachel says:

      Good point, VS.

    3. VS says:

      Theres one view about the study regarding the number of friends (on FB) and narcissism which has perhaps not been considered. A person may get friend requests from several people which she ( or even he) is too polite to turn down. This would reflect in an increased number of friends and the person may not be self-obsessed at all.

      I also wonder if there is any study about the people who have too few friends on FB? :o)