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
Social Networking Sites (SNS) grow in the number of users and have become a mass phenomenon. Time for some classification of these SNS users for both academic and practical purposes.
previous research has been focused on the study of user behavior in specific SNSs using mainly psychological (entertainment, socializing, etc.) or sociodemographic variables. In the present study, we propose a classification of users for all SNSs in which they actively participate, using a wide spectrum of behavioral and sociodemographical variables.
Introvert users: they are the smallest group of SNS users, mainly using SNSs for direct messaging. Mostly men older than 45 years of age, using one SNS service, having less than 50 contacts, using SNS once a week no longer than 1 hour.
Novel users: 25,5% of the sample, mostly women younger than 29 years, using SNS several times a week, spending between 2-5 hours per week. They use two SNS for entertainment, to keep in touch with friends and people they know.
Versatile users: The largest group presenting 36,25% of the group. Uses SNS for all kinds of activities such as commenting on friends, photos, public messaging, share photos and links to websites. Mainly men between 36 and 44, connecting at least once a day, spending 1-5 hours a day, using 2 or more SNSs, they have between 10 and 100 contacts. The majority use SNSs for entertainment, to maintain contact with friends, and because they were invited. In this group, there is a higher proportion of individuals who use SNSs for making professional contacts on a professional level.
Expert-Communicator user: About 20% of the sample. The most active user group, performing frequently different activities on SNSs. The majority are women between 25 and 35 with wide experience in SNS use. They use SNS several toimes a day for longer than 5 hours, they use more than two SNS with private profiles and they have more than 100 contacts.
They use SNSs for entertainment, for keeping in touch with friends, because they were invited, to keep informed about events, parties, etc., and to have a closer relationship with people with whom they do not maintain a direct relationship
Couldn’t find myself in any of these profiles, can you?
Alarcón-del-Amo, M., Lorenzo-Romero, C., & Gómez-Borja, M. (2011). Classifying and Profiling Social Networking Site Users: A Latent Segmentation Approach Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0346
In a recent study the conclusion about social networking sites and teens was that 93% of teens and young adults go online, compared to only 38% of adults over 65 years of age. It is surprising that 7% of 12-29 year olds still don’t use social networking sites. Twitter is the exception because it’s the only social networking site not often used by teenagers and young adults. Here you can read more about social media and young adults.
But why do some teenagers choose not to use social networking sites?
From a research with American college students participating:
disinterest, lack of understanding of the appeal of SNSs, and a dislike of engaging in presentation of the self through these sites as reasons for not engaging in SNS use.
From recent research in Australia with 69 out of 229 students (13 to 18 years (M 14.64 years, 40 out of 98 males, 29 out of 131 females) that reported not to use social networking sites the reasons underlying this non use were questioned.
The reasons were in order of importance:
No interest or motivation to use them
Social networking sites use was too time-consuming or detracted from time that they could be spending on alternate activities
Preference for other forms of communication, like phone or MSN or face to face contact
Preference for engaging in other activities. Such as watching TV, doing sports.
Concerns about their cybersafety.
Dislike of self-presentation online.
Some students mentioned other reasons like limited access, parental concern or influence by friends who were not using social networking sites
The authors state in their discussion
Strategies for more engagement of the teenage market would include the notions that SNS use can help to save time (e.g., interactions with friends but without the time taken to physically meet allows more time for studying and other activities) and that there are reliable mechanisms available to ensure the cybersafety of users (e.g., by programs that monitor and act on any reports of cyberbullying or stalking).
I’m not concerned about the lack of appeal of social networking sites for teenagers, more worried about having less time to explore and be active outside, what do you think?
Baker, R., & White, K. (2010). In Their Own Words: Why Teenagers
It can allow an individual to find others with the same interests such as dates or other social purposes such as hobbies
It can maintain pre-existing social connections
It can result in even stronger relationships than face-to-face contact because online interactions can generate more self-disclosures and fostered deeper personal questions without offending the other
Many online relationships eventually result in real world contact
Most research on Facebook investigates identity presentation and privacy concerns (The dangers of Facebook). Facebook has grown immensely in 2007 and it seems a little different from other social networking sites because it is mainly used to connect with people that were already friends as in face to face contacts. Facebook was not used as a tool to meet new people online but to meet people already known from the real world. Because of this it does not appear that Facebook users are primarily concerned with privacy. Information is provided to get in touch with previously known friends and acquaintances.
There is reason to believe that personality factors influence the use of Facebook. One way of looking at personality is with the Big Five. This divides personality into a series of five dimensional traits.
The first trait, Neuroticism, reflects a person’s tendency to experience psychological distress and high levels of the trait are associated with a sensitivity to threat. Extraversion, the second trait, reflects a person’s tendency to be sociable and able to experience positive emotions. The third factor, Openness to Experience, represents an individual’s willingness to consider alternative approaches, be intellectually curious and enjoy artistic pursuits. Agreeableness, as the fourth factor, is another aspect of interpersonal behavior, reflecting a tendency to be trusting, sympathetic and cooperative. The fifth dimension, Conscientiousness, reflects the degree to which an individual is organized, diligent and scrupulous.
Another important factor in using social networking sites or computers in general is the competency to use these technologies. So this kind of competency is also important to study when researching personality and facebook use.
This research was designed to explore how personality characteristics and competency influenced the ways in which university students utilized Facebook for social purposes.
How was this study done?
Ninety-seven students at a university in Southwestern Ontario participated in the present study. The sample was comprised of 15 men and 82 women, having an average age of 21.69 years. Students were compensated with partial course credit for their participation. Personality questionnaires, facebook use, Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) Competence were all studied in this research.
85% of participants used Facebook and 79% reported spending between 10 and 60 minutes daily on Facebook. Participants with a high score on Extraversion reported membership in significantly more groups on Facebook. Extraversion was not related to the number of facebook friends, time spent online or use of the communicative features of Facebook such as status change. This suggests that they use Facebook as a social tool, they do not use Facebook as an alternative to social activities.
Neuroticism was unrelated to postings of personal information but participants scoring high on neuroticism preferred using the Facebook wall. Those scoring low on neuroticism preferred posting photos on facebook. It is believed that Neuroticism plays a role in information control,
such that those high in the trait of Neuroticism are more likely to control what information is shared. With a Wall posting, an individual has a great deal of time to consider his or her response and is capable of limiting the amount of extraneous information presented as Wall posts are entirely textual and can be deleted afterwards. Photos, on the other hand, may inadvertently convey information about emotional states or geographical location, which may seem threatening to an individual’s well being and may make them too threatening for individuals high in Neuroticism.
Agreeableness and Openness to Experience were unrelated to features of facebook use.
Those high in Computer Mediated Competence spent more time on facebook and checked their own Wall more frequently.
Openness to Experience predicted higher frequency of Facebook activities and lower level of Computer Mediated competence. This discrepancy is puzzling but it may be that those who have high levels of Openness to Experience are more interested in trying new things than they are in trying to figure out how things work. They just start using it and will see what happens.
Personality factors are not as influential as expected on using Social Networking Sites in this case Facebook.
This suggests that personality defined by the Five-Factor approach may be too broad and not be the best way to understand specific Internet behaviors. For example, it may be that other more specific personality characteristics not defined by the Five-Factor Model such as narcissism or other traits such as shyness (e.g., Orr et al., in press) are more influential in activities related to Facebook use. It may also be that motivational factors such as desire for communication, seeking of social support and entertainment value may be more useful in understanding Facebook use than the ones we selected.
What do you think? Why do you use facebook?
C ROSS, E ORR, M SISIC, J ARSENEAULT, M SIMMERING, R ORR (2009). Personality and motivations associated with Facebook use Computers in Human Behavior DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2008.12.024