Why Is Facebook So Successful

Because Facebook use can evoke a positive emotional state. Researchers have esthablished these positive responses during an expirement in which they measured several psychophysiological measures. They recorded skin conductance, blood volume pulse, electroencephalogram, electromyography, respiratory activity, and pupil dilationstate. They measured these psychophysiological patterns in 30 healthy subjects during relaxation condition, showing slides of the subject’s personal Facebook account, and a stress condition.

Flow is a form of intense engagement and enjoyment, it can occur when the challenge provided by the activity is high enough but the skills of the person can still cope with the situation.

Findings from a wide range of domains, including chess playing, writing, sports, and visual arts, show a positive correlation between flow state measures and objective measurements of quality of performance. In addition, flow has been suggested to function as a reward signal to promote repetition and practice about the activity inducing flow

The Facebook experience resulted in a specific pattern of psychophysiological data, distinct from the relaxation and stress condition. During stress the sympathetic reactions are prominent, during relaxation the parasympathetic reaction is prominent in these subjects. In the Facebook condition the results reflect an higher emotional activation in combination with a moderate arousal. In short: joyous and excited. Results can be interpreted as an increased parasympathetic modulation of sympathetic activity.
Facebook and other social networking sites might be so succesful due to a specific positive affective state experienced by users.

Mauri, M., Cipresso, P., Balgera, A., Villamira, M., & Riva, G. (2011). Why Is Facebook So Successful? Psychophysiological Measures Describe a Core Flow State While Using Facebook Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0377