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Facebook Profiles Could Increase One’s Self-esteem, Study Reports

Update Date: May 31, 2013 02:49 PM EDT

A Facebook profile is one of the most popular ways for people to express themselves in the way that they want. Even though people might not see the process, a lot of thought and concentration go into making a profile just the way the user wants it. At the same time however, these profiles can be purposely misleading. According to a new study, researchers found that a Facebook profile could potentially influence the creator's behavior and even promote psychological mindsets that benefit the wellbeing of the Facebook user.

The study, headed by Catalina Toma, an assistant professor of communication arts from the University of Washington Madison, utilized the Implicit Association Test in her experiment. This test helped the research team measure and record Facebook users' level of self-esteem after viewing their own profile pages. When the participants viewed their own pages, the test measured the time it took for the participants to associate certain positive and negative words to themselves. The researchers found that participants seemed to have more self-esteem after looking at their own profiles.

"If you have high self-esteem, then you can very quickly associate words related to yourself with positive evaluations but have a difficult time associating words related to yourself with negative evaluations," Toma said via Medical Xpress. "But if you have low self-esteem, the opposite is true."

The researchers then administered a serial subtraction task, which measured how fast and accurate the participants were when they were asked to counting down in intervals of seven. The researchers discovered that people with higher self-esteem were less motivated to perform well, and ended up doing poorly on this task

"Performing well in a task can boost feelings of self-worth," Toma said. "However, if you already feel good about yourself because you looked at your Facebook profile, there is no psychological need to increase your self-worth by doing well in a laboratory task."

These findings suggest that social networks and self-perception are strongly tied to one another. With social networks becoming more and more popular, it is important to understand the possible effects that these networks have on their users. The study's abstract can be assessed here.

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