How Facebook Makes You Feel

A recent study suggests that spending time on the social networking site may darken your outlook:

[P]articipants initially completed a set of questionnaires, including one measuring their overall 1955_1336770061satisfaction with life.  Following this, participants were sent text messages 5 times a day for two weeks.  For each text, participants were asked to respond to several questions, including how good they felt at that moment, as well as how much they had used Facebook, and how much they had experienced direct interaction with others, since the last text.  At the end of the two weeks, participants completed a second round of questionnaires.  Here, the researchers once again measured participants’ overall satisfaction with life.

So, how does online interaction make us feel?

The researchers attempted to answer this question by examining the data in two different ways.  First, they looked at how the participant’s moment-to-moment feelings, or affect, changed between each text message.  The data showed that as participants reported using Facebook more often in between any two texts, the more their affect tended to change for the negative.  In other words, across the two weeks, increased Facebook use was associated with declines in affect.  Interestingly, this relationship disappeared when participants had very little direct social contact, and was much stronger when they had quite a lot of social contact.

In the second set of analyses, the researchers looked at whether each individual’s average amount of Facebook use over the course of two weeks was related to their overall life satisfaction at the end of the study.  People who tended to use Facebook more also tended to have larger declines in life satisfaction at the end of the study.

Previous Dish on Facebook here, here, and here.