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Facebook Posts and "Likes" Unmasks Attachment Anxiety

Update Date: Feb 10, 2015 09:00 AM EST

Constantly checking Facebook and other social media sites is a sign of insecurity, according to new research.

New research found a link between insecurity and Facebook activity. The latest findings revealed that people insecure about their relationships are significantly more likely to post, comment or update their status and "like" posts.

The latest study involved 600 people between the ages of 18 and 83. Lead researcher Joshua Hart, an associate professor of psychology at Union College, and his team asked participants about their close relationships and Facebook activity.

Hart and his team identified two kinds of active Facebook users: insecure users or extroverted users.

Insecure users scored higher in attachment anxiety, meaning they are more likely to need reassurance that they are loved and worry about rejection and abandonment. Researchers noted that these people were significantly more likely to engage in "feedback seeking" on Facebook.

"Compared to more secure people, those higher in attachment anxiety are more feedback sensitive," Hart said in a news release. "They report feeling much better about themselves when they get a lot of comments, likes and other feedback on their posts and worse about themselves when their Facebook activity generates little attention."

Hart notes that Facebook activity seems to work as insecure users "report receiving more attention than people lower in attachment anxiety," according to a statement.

"These studies are consistent with many people's intuitions that some individuals use Facebook to fulfill emotional and relationship needs that are unmet in the 'real' world," he added.

"There is a robust debate playing out in psychological science and pop culture as to whether Facebook represents a healthy or unhealthy outlet for such needs. I think the jury's still out on that, but this research suggests that personality is an important factor to consider when investigating the causes and consequences of people's engagement with social media," Hart concluded.

The findings are published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

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