Does a lot of friends on Facebook make you happy or does a positive self representation on Facebook make you feel happy. These two important questions were studied amongst 391 college students using Facebook. How does faceook use contribute to happiness?
Indeed more friends on facebook increases your subjective well-being. This association was not mediated by the perceived social support from these friends. Happiness from the number of facebook friends could also be mediated by an enhancement of self worth.
As in real life their is a critical number of friends and the feeling of social support derived from these friends. You can only devote a sufficient amount of time to a limited number of friends to maintain close connections with them in order to experience social support from them.
Positive self-presentation had a direct effect on subjective well-being, honest self-presentation had a significant indirect effect on subjective well-being through perceived social support.
It is possible that the act of positive self-presentation may closely reflect people’s tendency to hold positive beliefs about themselves, from which the psychological benefits of self-enhancement are derived
Honest self presentation also improves subjective well being via social support. This is probably explained by the importance of self disclosure in friendships.
Facebook friends are more likely to provide support when they know that the user is in need for support; only when such need is properly communicated through self-disclosure facilitated by honest self-presentation are users likely to receive support from Facebook friends
Positive self presentation is the use of facebook in highlighting the positive aspects of oneself by using status updates, photo albums and postings. Emphasis is on the positive aspects of your live and yourself. Honest self presentation is more about deeper levels of disclosure, representing oneself in a true-to-manner.
This cross sectional research is about correlation which is different from causation. The real answer to the question how facebook leads to happiness is by a longitudinal study.
Kim, J., & Lee, J. (2010). The Facebook Paths to Happiness: Effects of the Number of Facebook Friends and Self-Presentation on Subjective Well-Being Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0374