Facebook Profiles Increase Users’ Self-Esteem
According to a recent study, the Facebook profile of a person represents the ideal vision that each person has on itself, while suggesting that this could have a positive psychological impact. The author of the study is associate professor Catalina Toma, from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her study is scheduled to be published in June, in the journal Media Psychology. For her study, professor Toma used a special psychology test that assessed the self-esteem of the subjects, following a certain amount of time spent visualizing their own Facebook profile. This is the first study that uses the IAT (Implicit Association Test) to measure the effects that Facebook has on its users.
The results of the test reveal that the self-esteem of the subjects rose significantly after spending 5 minutes on their own Facebook profile. The Implicit Association Test measures the reaction time of participants when put in the situation to associate negative and positive adjectives with the words “I”, “myself”, “me”, and “my”. “If you have high self-esteem, then you can very quickly associate words related to yourself with positive evaluations but have a difficult time associating words related to yourself with negative evaluations”, said professor Toma, whilst adding that subjects with low self-esteem have difficulties associating positive adjectives with themselves.
Toma reports that she opted for the use of the Implicit Association Test because it doesn’t allow room for cheating. Due to the fact that modern society values high self-esteem, subjects tend to lie about their self-esteem in self-completed questionnaires. However, the IAT removes this subjectivity and bias. Moreover, professor Toma also investigated the effect that a Facebook profile has on the behavioral patterns of the subjects. Her results showed that the raise in self-esteem also comes with a lowering of their motivation to perform well in other tasks. When compared to a control group, the tested subjects showed less interest in performing the tasks during the allocate time. However, the errors of their tasks were not significantly different from those of the control group.
According to professor Toma, her results come as an affirmation of the theory that claims that people are constantly trying to manage their feelings about self-worth. The self-worth of a person can be boosted through a good performance in various tasks. However, when the level of their self-esteem is already high, people don’t feel the need to increase their self-worth anymore, causing them to perform more poorly in other tasks.
As a conclusion, professor Toma says that her study only shows a little part of the impact of Facebook on people, and that her study should not be used to draw any conclusions regarding the impact of Facebook on its users and their performance and motivation. She also added that more research is needed in order to evaluate the impact that Facebook has on the ability to study and the college grades of students.