People suffering from low self-esteem are more likely to post their relationship status on Facebook, a new study has found.
A report from Brunel University, published Friday, found that the popular Facebook “relationship status” feature was used by individuals with low self-esteem to generate attention to distract from their own feelings.
“People with low self-esteem are more likely to see the advantage of self-disclosing on Facebook rather than in person,” the report said.
However, rather than providing a boost of self-confidence, the romantic status posts “tend to be perceived as less likeable,” it added.
Data collected from a sample of 555 Facebook users took into account the frequency with which users engaged with the social network, whether or not they were involved in a relationship and the amount of time they spent checking Facebook.
“Sixty-five percent of participants were currently involved in a romantic relationship, and 34 percent had at least one child,” the report said.
A total of 57 percent checked Facebook on a daily basis, and spent an average of 108 minutes a day actively using it, it added.
The report also found that “narcissists” were likely to post about their achievements, rather than relationships, “indicating that narcissists’ boasting may be reinforced by the attention they crave.”
They were also more likely to post about health and fitness regimes “suggesting that they use Facebook to broadcast the effort they put into their physical appearance,” the report said.
Psychology lecturer Dr Tara Marshall, from Brunel University London, said: “It might come as little surprise that Facebook status updates reflect people’s personality traits. However, it is important to understand why people write about certain topics on Facebook because their updates may be differentially rewarded with ‘likes’ and comments.”
“People who receive more likes and comments tend to experience the benefits of social inclusion, whereas those who receive none feel ostracized,” she said.
“Although our results suggest that narcissists’ bragging pays off because they receive more likes and comments to their status updates, it could be that their Facebook friends politely offer support while secretly disliking such egotistical displays,” Marshall said.
“Greater awareness of how one’s status updates might be perceived by friends could help people to avoid topics that annoy more than they entertain.”
In the past, the links between usage of social media and emotional stability have been exploited by advertisers and social networks alike.
In July 2014, it was revealed that Facebook was performing manipulative social experiments on unknowing users.
The social media giant changed the information posted on 689,000 users’ home pages and discovered it was able to influence the way users felt via “emotional contagion.”
In their study, conducted with academics from Cornell University and the University of California, Facebook altered the levels of positive and negative “emotional content.”
This approach subtly changed users’ views so they found themselves posting more positive or negative content, depending on levels of exposure.
Activists criticized these social experiments as “scandalous,”“spooky”and“disturbing.”