Earth & Conservation

What Liking FB Likes May Say About You

A study finds people who have a sense of purpose are less likely to tie self-esteem to likes.


You know that boost of self-esteem, that sudden rush that comes with watching the number of "Likes" climb on a Facebook post you put all of that effort into? Well, it turns out you feel that way because your have no purpose in life. Or at least that's my takeaway from a recent study published in the journal published recently in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.

To be more accurate, Cornell University found that people who identify as having a sense of purpose are less likely to tie their self-esteem to approval on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites through likes, retweets, favorites or whatever the equivalent might be.

"Purposeful people noticed the positive feedback, but did not rely on it to feel good about themselves," study co-author Anthony Burrow said in a statement.

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So what exactly defines a "sense of purpose?" Well, according to researchers, to fit that description, an individual needs to have an ongoing, self-motivated, self-directed, forward-thinking ambition that they channel for the benefit of others. They agree with statements like, "To me, all the things I do are worthwhile," or, "I have lots of reasons for living."

To figure this out, the Cornell researchers set up two experiments. In the first, 250 U.S.-based Facebook users were gathered. After measuring for self-esteem and sense of purpose, the researchers simply asked how many likes the users received on an average photo on Facebook. Those with more likes had higher self-esteem -- unless the individual had a sense of purpose score, in which case there was no link between self-esteem and likes.

For the second half, 100 users were recruited for a fake social. They uploaded their photos and later found out whether how many likes they received, be it high, low or somewhere in the middle. Once again, those who had a lower "purpose" score showed higher self-esteem when they simply were told they received a higher number.

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Social science research hasn't always painted a rosy profile of the typical heavily invested social media consumer. Previous studies have linked social media use with depression, sleeplessness, low self-esteem and narcissism, albeit to varying degrees depending on the manner and frequency of usage.

Naturally, when you have a community of over 1 billion users, researchers can't exactly put everyone under the microscope, so there are bound to be competing findings that go in the opposite direction. Various studies have also found that Facebook can boost self-esteem, bolster confidence and have an overall positive impact on psychological well-being.

The key seems to be how you use Facebook and how often. Do you frequently post updates about your diet and exercise routine? Chances are you're a narcissist. Can't seem to get away from the constant stream of updates? You're probably having trouble sleeping.

And of course none of these apply to you and you simply enjoyed reading this article...just be sure to like us on Facebook.

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