The Psychology of Facebook

             Technology is changing how we interpret “belonging” to a group; belonging is no longer limited to social invitation and we are linked by Facebook friends and an endless loop of information on our newsfeed. Facebook’s success is linked to its ability to persuade consumers (Fogg).  Once users have been persuaded to create an account, Facebook validates two important social needs: the fundamental desire to belong and self-presentation. (Mehta)

            The desire to belong is innate. The instinct has evolved from a means of increasing one’s chances of survival into more of a social strategy for emotional wellbeing. Facebook enables users to feel more connected to their “friends” despite physical proximity or the status of their relationship with said friend. Even if you’ve grown apart from a pal, you can still be flooded with updates and new pictures thanks to Facebook. The false feeling of closeness provides users with a feeling of popularity and interconnection.  

            In general, humans strive to present themselves in the best light possible. Facebook allows us to create a more idealized version of ourselves and to exclude any negative information we don’t want the general public to see. According to research studies, on average people are fairly representative of their personal traits, including openness, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extraversion and neuroticism. Researchers are unsure to as whether users simply do not achieve portraying their idealized selves online or if they intend to create an accurate profile of themselves. (O’Callaghan)

            The phenomenon known as Facebook, and other social mediums, have already attracted considerable research; it will be interesting to learn about the psychology of social media on a deeper level. For example, the psychology of being “unfriended” is already being examined. As the first generation where it is uncommon to be without a cell phone or laptop for an extended period of time, I am intrigued to see the long term effects of social media on the ways in which we interact and to see whether the obsession endures.

           

Works Cited

Fogg, BJ. “Psychology of Facebook.” Stanford Persuasive Tech Lab, n.d. Web. 02 Nov.
            2012. <http://captology.stanford.edu/projects/psychology-of-facebook.html&gt;.

Mehta, Vinita. “Why Does Using Facebook Feel So Good?” Head Games: What Freud
            Never Knew
. Psychology Today, 29 Apr. 2012. Web. 02 Nov. 2012.
            <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/head-games/201204/why-does-using
            facebook-feel-so-good>.

O’Callaghan, Tiffany. “The Psychology of Facebook Profiles.” TIME: Health and Family.
            TIME, 3 Dec. 2009. Web. 02 Nov. 2012.
            <http://healthland.time.com/2009/12/03/the-psychology-of-facebook
            profiles/>.

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6 thoughts on “The Psychology of Facebook

  1. I find it interesting that Facebook is a psychological point of interest. I never really thought about how it really is an extension and a fulfillment of an emotional need. I do agree with this article that states that people can create idealized versions of themselves and maintain “relationships” with people they don’t even truly see or know in day-to-day life.

  2. The feeling of being accepted is clearly emphasized through Facebook. It is interesting to see how some people get so emotionally hurt if someone “defriends” them or if someone simply does not accept their friend request. Even though it is not being announced to the world, the idea of someone not being “friends” with you online can potentially really hurt your feelings. Even though the definition of friends has nothing to do with Facebook, the term puts emphasis on some harsh feelings.
    Melissa

  3. I read an article a while back that compared Facebook to gambling. It said that you take a gamble by putting up a status update or commenting on someone’s status, and there’s almost a high that comes with the pay off (through comments or likes) of that gamble. If this is true, then Facebook really is something that is is psychologically binding and has potential to form addictions. I think this topic is really interesting and that you bring up some really good points!

  4. I would first say that I have a Facebook so I am guilty of it as well. With that said, I have long thought that people are in fact presenting themselves in the best way possible or in this idealized version that you mentioned. People (for the most part) only post pictures or things that will draw and grab the attention of others. They don’t mention the other 98% of the time that they are not doing anything exciting which portrays them in this ever entertaining and idealized light.

    I am very interested in the psychology of the being “unfriended” as you mentioned. Many times I ask myself why I have a Facebook because of all the garbage that many people post. As a semi-remedy for this, I’ve deleted well over four-hundred people and have never thought about the psychology behind it for those on the receiving end. I find it very intriguing that there are actually studies on this.

  5. I would first say that I have a Facebook so I am guilty of it as well. With that said, I have long thought that people are in fact presenting themselves in the best way possible or in this idealized version that you mentioned. People (for the most part) only post pictures or things that will draw and grab the attention of others. They don’t mention the other 98% of the time that they are not doing anything exciting which portrays them in this ever entertaining and idealized light.

    I am very interested in the psychology of the being “unfriended” as you mentioned. Many times I ask myself why I have a Facebook because of all the garbage that many people post. As a semi-remedy for this, I’ve deleted well over four-hundred people and have never thought about the psychology behind it for those on the receiving end, or if there is any. I find it very intriguing that there are actually studies on this, because personally I am very emotionally detached from it.

  6. I really enjoyed this post. I have been kind of aware of this phenomenon that Facebook has created. I could not tell you how many times I’ve logged on to Facebook and felt super popular because I have a bunch of notifications (this usually only happens when I’ve recently uploaded pictures). I know how perverse that sounds (especially to a psychology nerd like me), but sadly, it’s true. Maybe this is just a characteristic of our generation.

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