People who compare themselves more with others spent more time on Facebook, have more friends, and see proportionally more social content on the platform, an interesting Facebook research has revealed.
Such Facebook users also see greater amounts of feedback on friends' posts and proportionally more positivity, said Moira Burke and colleagues at Facebook who surveyed 37,729 people from 18 countries. The survey was paired with logged activity on Facebook for the prior month. The logs were anonymised and aggregated.
"People compare themselves to one another both offline and online. The specific online activities that worsen social comparison are partly understood, though much existing research relies on people recalling their own online activities post hoc and is situated in only a few countries," said the Facebook research team.
The research found no evidence that social comparison happened more with acquaintances than close friends. One in five respondents recalled recently seeing a post that made them feel worse about themselves but reported conflicting views - half wished they hadn't seen the post, while a third felt very happy for the poster.
The findings not only confirm past research that found that people who spent more time on Facebook reported experiencing social comparison more often but also reveal differences in how they spend their time. People who reported more frequent social comparison saw more social content (produced by friends, friends-of-friends, or people they followed rather than by news media, businesses or other organizations).
They had more friends overall, saw more likes and comments on others' posts, saw content with greater positive affect, spent proportionally more time viewing profiles, and saw proportionally more content from people close in age.
"There was mixed evidence that social comparison happened more between people of the same gender, and no evidence that it happened more with acquaintances than close friends," said Facebook.
Even when people felt worse about themselves, with half wishing they hadn't seen the comparison-inducing content, one-third still reported feeling very happy for their friends who shared that content.
Social comparison is a common part of people's lives."Though it may be impossible to prevent all comparisons - and some may be inspirational - we can better understand the kinds of experiences people have that are associated with feeling worse by comparison, so that we can identify opportunities for technology to help," the social networking giant noted.
Providing people with tools so that they can hide feedback counts, use filters, be more intentional with their time, have more meaningful interactions, think more of others, share difficult moments, and be inspired can better support well-being online, added Facebook.
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