Do you look up your less attractive and less successful friends on Facebook, when you are sad? A new study has suggested that this is true for most people in bad mood, to feel better about themselves.
It was found by the research that, generally, people connect with friends who post optimistic and success-oriented updates on social media but this behaviour changes when they are feeling blue.
"When people are in a negative mood, they start to show more interest in the less attractive, less successful people on their social media sites," said Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, co-author of the study and professor of communication at The Ohio State University.
This study adds more context to recent studies that discovered that people spending a lot of time on Facebook are exhibit a frustrating, angry, and lonely behaviour. This may happen because they feel inadequate because of all the happy updates from friends.
"People have the ability to manage how they use social media," said co-author of the study Benjamin Johnson, an assistant professor at VU University Amsterdam.
"Generally, most of us look for the positive on social media sites. But if you're feeling vulnerable, you'll look for people on Facebook who are having a bad day or who aren't as good at presenting themselves positively, just to make yourself feel better," said Johnson.
Done on 168 college students, the study put the participants in good or bad mood by making them take a test on facial emotion recognition. The students were randomly put in a bad or good mood by telling them that their performance was “terrible” or “excellent” respectively. This was done regardless of their answers.
Then the participants were asked to review a social networking site, the overview page of which presented preview profiles of eight people. The students could click on to these profiles to read more. The key to the study was that the eight profiles were designed to make the people profiled appear attractive and successful - or unattractive or unsuccessful.
While the actual profile images were blurred, they were ranked on a scale of 0 to 5 on career success and attractiveness. The researchers found that people, who were put in a bad mood, spent significantly more time than others browsing the profiles of people who had been rated as unsuccessful and unattractive.
"One of the great appeals of social network sites is that they allow people to manage their moods by choosing who they want to compare themselves to," Knobloch-Westerwick said.
The study was published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour.
Source: Financial Express
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