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Facebook Being Used to Regulate Emotions

Update Date: Oct 03, 2014 06:38 PM EDT
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Psychologist found that many people activity search social networking sites to find friends who are doing even worse than they are when they're feeling bad.

Previous studies reveal that people generally use social media to connect with friends who post positive and success-oriented updates. However, negative moods increase the likelihood of clicking on less attractive, less successful people on social media sites.

"When people are in a negative mood, they start to show more interest in the less attractive, less successful people on their social media sites," co-researcher Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, a professor of communication at The Ohio State University, said in a news release.

The latest study involved 168 undergraduate students who were asked to take tests on facial emotion recognition. Participants were then randomly told their performance was "terrible" or "excellent" regardless of their actual score.

Later, participants were asked to look at a social networking site called SocialLink, which consisted of eight made-up profiles of people designed to appear attractive and successful or unattractive or unsuccessful.

The findings revealed that participants who were told that they performed "terribly" on the facial recognition task spent significantly more time than others browsing profiles of people designed to look unsuccessful and unattractive.

 "If you need a self-esteem boost, you're going to look at people worse off than you," Knobloch-Westerwick said. "You're probably not going to be looking at the people who just got a great new job or just got married.

"One of the great appeals of social network sites is that they allow people to manage their moods by choosing who they want to compare themselves to," she concluded.

The findings will be published December in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

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