According to a new study completed by the Facebook data team, “the more people use Facebook, the better they feel and those who share and communicate the most with their friends feel even better”. This study was presented as part of the “Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems” in Chicago this past week. Facebook surveyed users measuring “bonding social capital”, “bridging social capital”, as well as loneliness. 1200 people were surveyed by a system which not only asked questions but monitored the users’ site activity.
The result was that users felt less lonely the more they used Facebook. This is something that the recent Facebook South Park episode poked fun at for a character named Kip Jordy who didn’t have any Facebook friends. Jordy’s life was turned around after Kyle ends up friending him, immediately killing months of loneliness. While it was a cartoon show, it also effectively illustrates what the Facebook researchers found: logging on to Facebook and communicating with friends makes people feel better and less lonely.
Also of interest was those that directly interacted with their friends (e.g. sent messages, wrote on walls, “liked” content, and tagged friends in photos) were more likely to feel good. Passive consumers of information were not directly correlated to a strong “well-being”. While these were the most significant findings of the study, there are also some other interesting tidbits in the study. For example: among the users in the study, most spent the majority of their time posting status updates as well as posting application stories. Very little time was spent within Facebook’s Notes application.
Also of interest was that the most frequent form of communication was comments by a significant margin. The commenting feature wasn’t even added until July 2008. You can download the full study here and read more about the findings via the Facebook blog.