Good news, Bad news: Facebook “likes” increase self-esteem, decrease self-control

According to research conducted by co-author Andrew T. Stephen of University of Pittsburgh, Facebook "likes" and positive comments can lead to a lack of self-control..

It appears as if receiving gratification from close friends on Facebook has its perks and disadvantages. On one end, your self-esteem boosts. On another end, you lose self-control.

According to a study conducted by co-authors Andrew T. Stephen of University of Pittsburgh and Keith Wilcox of Columbia Business School, Facebook users who are focused on close friends tend to experience an increase in self-esteem while browsing their social media pages; but afterwards, these users display less self-control in real life and online. (Read the full details of the study here.)

The results suggest that greater social network use is associated with a higher body-mass index, increased binge eating, a lower credit score, and higher levels of credit-card debt for individuals with strong ties to their social network,” the researchers write. And these findings are only applicable to people who are receiving positive feedback from close ties, not individuals they don’t know. “We find that people experience greater self-esteem when they focus on the image they are presenting to strong ties in their social networks,” says Wilcox. “This suggests that even though people are sharing the same positive information with strong ties and weak ties on social networks, they feel better about themselves when the information is received by strong ties than by weak ties.”

To our knowledge, this is the first research to show that using online social networks can affect self-control,” says coauthor Stephen.


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