STUDY: The More People Use Facebook During A Specific Time Period, The Worse They Feel

By David Cohen 

Is there a correlation between happiness and frequency of Facebook posts? Yes, according to a study by the University of Michigan, released Wednesday, which found that the more people used the social network during a specified time period, the worse they felt.

A total of 82 young adults participated in the study, all of which had Facebook accounts and smartphones, and they were sent texts at random times, five times per day, with links to an online survey asking them these questions:

  • How do you feel right now?
  • How worried are you right now?
  • How lonely do you feel right now?
  • How much have you used Facebook since the last time we asked?
  • How much have you interacted with other people “directly” since the last time we asked?

According to the results, the more respondents used Facebook during the specified time periods, the worse they subsequently felt, and the same results occurred when stretched out over the two-week study period.

The researchers found no evidence of similar results from phone conversations or face-to-face interactions with other people. In fact, the opposite occurred: Direct interactions led to respondents feeling better over time.

Two theories that were advanced: People were more likely to use Facebook when they felt bad; and loneliness and Facebook use both independently predicted how happy participants subsequently felt.

University of Michigan social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the article and a faculty associate at the university’s Institute for Social Research, said in a release announcing the findings:

On the surface, Facebook provides an invaluable resource for fulfilling the basic human need for social connection, but rather than enhancing well-being, we found that Facebook use predicts the opposite result — it undermines it.

Another one of the study’s authors, University of Michigan cognitive neuroscientist John Jonides, added:

This is a result of critical importance because it goes to the very heart of the influence that social networks may have on people’s lives.

And yet another co-author, emotion researcher Philippe Verduyn, post-doctoral fellow of the Research Foundation — Flanders (Belgium), said:

This is the advantage of studying Facebook use and well-being as dynamic processes that unfold over time. It allows us to draw inferences about the likely causal sequence of Facebook use and well-being.

Readers: What did you think of the study’s results?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.