8FACEBOOK PROFILES RAISE USERS’ SELF-ESTEEM AND AFFECT BEHAVIOR – a study by UW-Madison
Facebook profiles are a version of self; it is tailored for the eyes of family and acquaintances through the use of photos and posts. A new study by UW-Madison assistant professor Catalina Toma finds beneficial psychological effects and influenced behavior. Ms. Toma used the Implicit Association Test to measure Facebook users’ self-esteem. The test showed in 5 minutes of viewing their own Facebook profile participants experienced a significant boost in self-esteem. This is the first time this test has been
done on Facebook users.
Catalina Toma said-
“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. But if you have low self-esteem, the opposite is true.”
“Our culture places great value on having high self-esteem. For this reason, people typically inflate their level of self-esteem in self-report questionnaires,” she says. “The Implicit Association Test removes this bias.”
In addition, Ms. Toma studied whether or not exposure to one’s own Facebook profile affects behavior.
“We wanted to know if there are any additional psychological effects that stem from viewing your own self-enhancing profile,” says Toma, whose work will be published in the June issue of Media Psychology. “Does engaging with your own Facebook profile affect behavior?”
After the subjects spent time viewing their own profile they attempted fewer answers during the allotted time than people in a control group, but their error rate was not any worse. Toma says the results are consistent with self-affirmation theory, which claims that people constantly try to manage their feelings of self-worth.
“Performing well in a task can boost feelings of self-worth,” Toma says. “However, if you already feel good about yourself because you looked at your Facebook profile, there is no psychological need to increase your self-worth by doing well in a laboratory task.”
Assistant Professor Toma discourages drawing broad conclusions about Facebook’s impact on motivation and performance based on this particular study because it examines only one facet of Facebook use.
“This study shows that exposure to your own Facebook profile reduces motivation to perform well in a simple, hypothetical task,” she says. “It does not show that Facebook use negatively affects college students’ grades, for example. Future work is necessary to investigate the psychological effects of other Facebook activities, such as examining others’ profiles or reading the newsfeed.”
Gerontology professionals have been concerned for a long time about the negative effects of senior’s feelings of isolation and consider social media a good health improving endeavor. This study seems to support this view. Also consider that medical staffs usually do whatever they can to keep a patience’s attitude and self esteem high in order to promote healing.