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Facebook may make you envious, dissatisfied: Study


First published: January 22, 2013, 4:26 PM IST | Updated: January 22, 2013
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Facebook may make you envious, dissatisfied: Study
The researchers identified that envying their "Facebook friends" is the major reason for this result.

Berlin: Social networking site Facebook can make you feel envious of your "successful" friends, leading to frustration and dissatisfaction, a new German study has found.

Researchers led by Dr Hanna Krasnova of the Humboldt-Universitat zu Berlin surveyed Facebook members regarding their feelings after using the platform.

More than one-third of respondents reported predominantly negative feelings, such as frustration. The researchers identified that envying their "Facebook friends" is the major reason for this result.

Krasnova, explained that, "Although respondents were reluctant to admit feeling envious while on Facebook, they often presumed that envy can be the cause behind the frustration of 'others' on this platform - a clear indication that envy is a salient phenomenon in the Facebook context".

"Indeed, access to copious positive news and the profiles of seemingly successful 'friends' fosters social comparison that can readily provoke envy. By and large, on-line social networks allow users unprecedented access to information on relevant others - insights that would be much more difficult
to obtain offline," Krasnova said in a statement.

Those who do not engage in any active, interpersonal communications on social networks and primarily utilise them as sources of information, eg reading friends' postings, checking news feeds, or browsing through photos, are particularly subject to these painful experiences.

The study also found that about one-fifth of all recent on-line/offline events that had provoked envy among the respondents took place within a Facebook context. This reveals a colossal role of this platform in users' emotional life.

Paradoxically, envy can frequently lead to users embellishing their Facebook profiles, which, in turn, provokes envy among other users, a phenomenon that the researchers have termed "envy spiral".

The researchers were also able to establish a negative link between the envy that arises while on Facebook and users' general life satisfaction. Indeed, passive use of Facebook heightens invidious emotions that, in turn, adversely affect users' satisfaction with their lives.

"Considering the fact that Facebook use is a worldwide phenomenon and envy is a universal feeling, a lot of people are subject to these painful consequences," study co-author Helena Wenninger of the TU-Darmstadt said.

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