This study investigated whether Facebook usage has negative impacts on variables like identity, self-esteem, and a subjective sense of well-being. A qualitative research paradigm was utilized in the form of a critical literature review. Findings of the study suggest that, for some people (qualified by personal, behavioral, and/or conditional factors), Facebook usage can have a negative impact on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and subjective sense of well-being. Specifically, personal, behavioral, and conditional factors that determine whether or not Facebook use negatively impacts psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective sense of well-being include: i) co-rumination, ii) depressive rumination, iii) quality of attachments, iv) degree/level of neuroticism, and v) personality factors like extroversion, introversion, and passivity.
As Facebook now enters its second decade of existence, the phenomenal popularity of this social networking platform raises important research questions about its possible psychological impacts.
The basic research question of the current study reads as follows: does Facebook usage have negative impacts on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective sense of well-being?
As an initial response to the basic research question, Facebook usage can have negative impacts on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective sense of well-being. However, these types of negative effects do not occur for all Facebook users. The current study argues, more precisely, that Facebook users bring certain personality traits, behavior patterns, and psychological qualities to the table. Specifically, personal, behavioral, and conditional factors that determine whether or not Facebook use negatively impacts psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective sense of well-being include: i) co-rumination, ii) depressive rumination, iii) quality of attachments, iv) degree/level of neuroticism, v) personality factors like extroversion, introversion, and passivity.
The current study is organized in four main sections: Section I - Literature Review; Section II - Methodology; Section III – Discussion of Findings. The report concludes with a summary of findings, recommendations for future research, and limitations.
Correspondence Bias. This term refers to the tendency for individuals to attribute the positive content presented on a social networking platform like Facebook to the personality of a relatively unknown contributor; the positive content might, otherwise, be attributed to situational factors (Chou & Edge, 2012).
Co-rumination. This term refers to the excessive discussion of personal problems within peers and/or members of one’s social network; co-rumination involves repeated conversations about negative issues; conjecture about the causes of personal problems, and intensified focus on negative emotions (Davila, et al., 2012, p. 73; Rose, 2002)
Depressive rumination. This term refers to the act of passively focusing on symptoms of depression and/or distress and the possible causes and consequences of such; depressive rumination is, therefore, characterized by compulsive fixation on personal problems and negative feelings (Davila, et al., 2012, p. 73; Nolen-Hoeksema, Wisco & Lyubomirsky, 2008).
The following section of the current study presents a literature review of scholarly and peer-reviewed articles and studies. Discussion is organized according to the logical relationship of the research topics: i) Facebook Psychology, ii) Facebook Use: Declines in Subjective Well-Being, iii) Effects of the Number of Facebook Friends and Self-Presentation on Subjective Well-Being, iv) Effects of Exposure to Facebook on Self-Esteem Moderators: Attachment Style, Personality Traits, Interpersonal Competency, vi) Moderators Depressive Rumination and Corumuniation, vii) Facebook and Depressive Symptoms: Rumination as a Mechanism for Negative Social Comparison, viii) Online Social Networking: Motivations, Personalities, and Negative Consequences, ix) Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction, x) Frequency: Sense of Subjective Well-being.
As widely known, it has been more than ten years since Facebook was initially launched in February 2004. Given the fundamental purpose of Facebook for supporting social networking and communication on a global scale, this social networking platform is of special interest to communications researchers and other social scientists. Of common interest to researchers is the question of how Facebook impacts the psychology of the user. A key research question, in other words, concerns whether Facebook use and psychological outcomes on constructs like identity, self-esteem, subjective well-being, and so forth are negative or positive. In what represents an almost commonsense treatment of the question, Anderson, Woodnutt, Chamorro, and Premuzic (2012) investigated the relationship between Facebook use and the impacts on self-esteem. The findings of the study suggest that positive feedback on Facebook can enhance self-esteem while negative comments, to the contrary, can diminish self-esteem (Anderson, Woodnutt, Chamorro, and Premuzic, 2012).
Despite the findings of Anderson et al. (2012), the consensus opinion among researchers in the field is that closer scrutiny needs to be given to research questions such as: does Facebook usage have negative impacts on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective sense of well-being? Further, it is widely recognized that researchers need to determine whether or not factors such as co-rumination, depressive rumination, personality factors, and/or other variables have moderating influences and/or effects on psychological outcomes of Facebook use. In relation to these types of questions and conjectures, agreements and disagreements are commonplace in the field of research.
Over the past ten years, social networking platforms like Facebook have become phenomenally popular. In illustrating the point, recent reports by Smith (2014) and Kross et al. (2013), indicate that: 57% of all American adults use Facebook; 73% of all adolescents aged 12 to 17 use Facebook; 64% of Facebook users visit the site daily; approximately 500 million Facebook users worldwide visit the site daily (Kross, et al., 2013; Smith, 2014). Despite the meteoric rise in the popularity of social networking platforms like Facebook, a relative paucity of research exists concerning the impacts of Facebook use on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and the subjective well-being of Facebook users. Therefore, Kross et al. (2013) conducted a study to examine how Facebook use influences two components of subjective well-being. The two components of subjective well-being in the study included: i) how people feel moment-to-moment and ii) how satisfied people feel with their lives. The study was conducted over a two week period and controlled for the amount of time participants spent on Facebook during the two-week test period. As anticipated by the researchers, it was found that regular Facebook use is predictive of negative shifts in both of these subjective well-being components. Additionally, the negative impacts of Facebook use on the two components of subjective well-being were amplified in proportion to the amount of time participants spent using Facebook (Kross et al, 2013). In other words, the main finding of the study suggested that participants who use Facebook frequently and regularly are most inclined to experience declines in their overall sense of subjective well-being. Based on the research findings, normal face-to-face social interaction did not appear to negatively impact subjective well-being. Also, the researchers found that the negative impacts of Facebook use on subjective well-being were not moderated by variables such as gender, depression, the number of Facebook friends, and emotional states like loneliness (Kross et al., 2013). Conclusively, the findings of the study, therefore, raise some serious red flags about the potential psychological dangers of using Facebook frequently and regularly.
Although Kross et al. (2013) found that the negative impacts of Facebook use on subjective well-being were not moderated by variables like co-rumination, depressive rumination, gender, personality traits, and so forth, other researchers like Kim and Lee (2011) have found just the opposite. In their 2011 study, Kim and Lee investigated two research questions concerning: i) whether or not Facebook increases user subjective well-being, and ii) how Facebook increases user subjective well-being. The research focused on two potential moderating variables including i) the number of Facebook friends and ii) self-presentation strategies (i.e., positive versus honest). Positive presentation refers to the act of portraying and/or depicting oneself on Facebook in positive ways – e.g., highlighting personal accomplishments and achievements, being optimistic about life, and generally avoiding negative/self-deprecating comments. Honest presentation, on the other hand, refers to a more balanced/objective presentation of self that involves personal recognition and acknowledgment of strengths and weaknesses. The researchers found that users with moderate numbers of Facebook friends and positive self-presentation improved user subjective well-being (Kim & Lee, 2011; Rutledge, Gillmor & Gillen, 2013). The findings were, however, qualified with consideration for perceived and/or actual social support provided by Facebook friends. Positive self-presentation appeared to enhance subjective well-being for Facebook users not operating on the assumption or perception, that they receive authentic social support in the Facebook platform. On the other hand, honesty in presentation appeared to enhance subjective well-being for Facebook users who truly believe that they receive authentic social support on Facebook.
The above findings comport with the work of Krämer and Winter (2008) which suggests that impression management is a major motive for people who actively and regularly participate in social networking sites like Facebook. Impression management refers to the process of trying to control and/or manipulate the perceptions of other Facebook and/or social networking users. In related research, the findings of Kim and Lee (2011) found that the indiscriminate one-to-many communication on Facebook and other social networking sites tends to promote public self-focus and self-referential processing - a combination of cognitive factors that can readily serve to distort thinking and social judgments. As such research findings have made it clear that conditional factors moderate the psychological outcomes of Facebook use, other researchers including Barasch and Berger (2014) and Goncalves, Kostakos and Venkatanathan (n.d.) found that broadcasting (i.e., communicating with a large group) encourages people to share self-presentational content, often revealing too much about themselves while narrowcasting (i.e., communicating with one person) encourages people to share content that is useful to the message recipient. Facebook and other social networking sites are unique in this respect as broadcasting and narrowcasting represent dual options at virtually all times – not a possibility in ordinary face-to-face communications. Finally, Cupchik (2011) investigated Facebook use in relation to psychological participatory motives. The researcher found that four facets of self (i.e., actual versus ideal, public versus private, engaged versus detached and implicit versus explicit) relate to four corresponding motive for engaging in Internet activity: i) connection, ii) validation, iii) compensation, and iv) exploration (Cupchik, 2011). Summarily, Facebook use and the impact on subjective well-being is a function of both conditional and personal variables, motives of the user.
Whereas researchers like Kross, et al. (2013), and Kim and Lee (2011) have focused on the effects of Facebook on subjective-well being, Gonzales and Hancock (2011) have extended the communications research to the psychological construct of self-esteem. Specifically, Gonzales and Hancock (2011) posed contrasting hypotheses (Objective Self-Awareness (OSA) from social psychology and the Hyperpersonal Model) to test whether Facebook use (i.e., exposure) diminished or enhanced self-esteem. The OSA model essentially posits that self-awareness (i.e., the capacity to think introspectively and recognize self as a separate and unique entity) in conjunction with Facebook usage diminishes self-esteem (Fiske, Gilbert & Lindzey, 2010, p. 737). In this respect, the researchers found just the opposite - specifically, that self-awareness that is advanced by means of one viewing his/her own Facebook profile improves self-esteem (Gonzales & Hancock, 2011). The findings of Gonzales and Hancock (2011) ultimately support the Hyperpersonal Model which suggests that computer-mediated communication affords Facebook users certain advantages in calibrating self-presentation such that use of Facebook becomes an overall positive experience – that is, assuming the absence of moderating variables like depression, identity formation problems, low self-esteem, and so forth.
In investigating the interrelationships of constructs including attachment style, personality traits, and interpersonal competence, Jenkins-Guarnieri, Wright and Johnson (2013) examined the online behaviors of Facebook users. The researchers utilized the popular Five-Factor Model which views personality in terms of five broad domains: openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. By definition, each term can be understood as follows:
Openness - degree of imagination, curiosity, artistic expressiveness, and openness to new/novel situations and new experiences; conscientiousness – an individual’s proclivity to organize, deliberate, conform, and be self-disciplined; extroversion – the degree to which a person is outgoing, assertive, and active; agreeableness – the degree to which a person is helpful, easygoing, kind to others, and generous; neuroticism – the degree to which the person is anxious, moody, self-punishing, and critical. (Griggs, 2008)
Ultimately, the researchers found that study participants with neurosis and insecure attachment (meaning that they have been socially conditioned to not enjoy trusting, healthy, secure relationships) experienced negative indirect effects of Facebook use (Jenkins-Guarnieri, Wright & Johnson, 2013). Stated in more direct terms, Facebook users who enter the platform with pre-existing attachment problems will tend to manifest such in the context of this global communications social network, often even in magnified and exacerbated ways. For example, individuals who failed to develop trusting relationships early in life with parents and/or primary caregivers will tend to behave in the context of the Facebook platform in ways that are consistent with a lack of trust in relationships. Such behaviors may include questioning and doubting the motives of other Facebook users, assuming that other Facebook users have selfish motives and intentions, and even believing that nobody has truly altruistic intentions. Similarly, Sheldon, Abad, and Hinsch (2011) investigated whether Facebook helps people meet their relatedness needs. The researchers found that Facebook usage paradoxically correlates with more relatedness satisfaction (connection) and more relatedness dissatisfaction (disconnection). In so many words, these findings mean that Facebook with its one-to-many communication capabilities can serve to heighten and intensify the psychological impacts of communication. As a caveat, however, the psychological impacts of the Facebook social networking platform are dependent on the Facebook user's fundamental attachment orientation – that is, whether he/she developed healthy or dysfunctional attachments during the developmental years (van der Horst, 2011).
Along the lines of additional research concerned with potential moderators in Facebook use and the psychological impacts, Davila et al. (2012) examined the relationships between social networking and depression. The researchers found that depressive rumination and co-rumination were associated with social networking quality - specifically, the positive or negative psychological influences of Facebook use. Corumination can, perhaps, most readily be understood as a situation with friends and/or peers involving mutual focus and discussion about personal problems - a.k.a., a "pity party." Similarly, depressive rumination involves the brooding and contemplation of personal problems and negative issues to the point that no balance or consideration is given to the positive side of life. Ultimately, the researchers found that Facebook users with depressive rumination and/or tendencies towards co-rumination generally experience negative interactions and negative psychological impacts (Davila, et al., 2012). In sum, the findings can be interpreted as meaning that Facebook users with a predisposition for negative psychological outcomes will experience similar results in using this social networking platform.
Along similar lines of research, Feinstein et al. (2013) predicated their research on the growing scientific consensus that social networking quality is a key risk factor for negative psychological outcomes with Facebook usage. In this respect, the researchers investigated two basic questions concerning: i) whether the tendency to negatively compare oneself with others leads to increased symptoms of depression, and ii) whether such an association is moderated by increased rumination. Conclusively, the researchers found that the moderation effect of increased rumination was significant; also, negative comparison of oneself with others can lead to increased rumination which, then, results in increased depression (Feinstein et al., 2013). Thus, for some Facebook users, involvement in this social networking platform is like a vicious self-feeding cycle whereby rumination leads to increased depression and increased depression further leads to more rumination.
As the broader community of communications researchers recognize, investigating online social networking as a social phenomenon requires treatment of basic questions related to the following: i) the motivations for social networking involvement, ii) personalities of social networking users, and iii) the relationship that motivations and personality factors may have with respect to potential negative consequences of using social network platforms like Facebook. Along these lines, Kuss and Griffiths (2011) investigated motivations for social networking usage, personalities of social networking users, and the negative consequences of social networking usage. Quite interestingly, the researchers found that a primary motivation for social networking usage is for the maintenance of extant offline social networks consisting of family, friends, and others. Thus, contrary to common perceptions, the prevailing motivation for people to use Facebook and other social networking platforms is based on the recognition of extended functionality for managing social networks. In other words, in a world that is increasingly globalized and imposes barriers to communication and relationships, Facebook and other social networking platforms provide a way for people to bridge the social/relational divide through high tech multimedia capabilities. Notably, the researchers also discovered evidence to support the claim that personality significantly influences the motivation for using Facebook. Extroverts tend to use Facebook and social networking sites for social enhancement; introverts, on the other hand, tend to use Facebook and other social networking sites for social compensation (Kuss & Griffiths, 2011). Thus, personality would appear to moderate possible negative psychological outcomes due to a diminished connection for real-life socialization in the case of introversion.
In further examining the relationship between personality and the psychological impacts of using social networking sites like Facebook, Krasnova, Wenninger, Widjaja, and Buxmann (2013) recognized that no researchers to date have investigated the relationship between Facebook use and the prevalence of the feelings of envy. The research was predicated on the assumption that social networking sites like Facebook afford users with unprecedented and unmatched capability for monitoring the activities of others - i.e., social comparison. It was further postulated that heightened social comparison driven by feelings of envy may have negative impacts on an aspect of subjective well-being - namely, life satisfaction. Ultimately, the researchers found that Facebook users who engage in passive participation experience exacerbated feelings of envy along with a decrease in life satisfaction (Krasnova, Wenninger, Widjaja and Buxmann, 2013). Thus, it can be concluded that Facebook users with passive personality types are more inclined to experience negative psychological outcomes in relation to factors like subjective well-being.
Given the fact that so many Facebook users are daily users, an important research question must address whether or not the frequency of Facebook use moderates or influences psychological outcomes. Along these lines, Chou and Edge (2012) investigated the impact of using Facebook on the perceptions users hold for the lives of others and, by comparison, their own sense of subjective well-being. The researchers found that people who use Facebook more frequently and for longer durations tend to view other people as being relatively happier; the same population of participants also tended to agree that life is unfair and that other users have better lives (Chou & Edge, 2012). The findings would suggest that obsessive and/or compulsive personality types are more prone to experiencing the negative psychological impacts of using Facebook and other social networking platforms – specifically in terms of the negative influences on subjective well-being.
As for the basic research methodology of the current report, a literature review of peer-reviewed literature and scholarly articles was utilized. This method was used for the purpose of explaining the existing research as it relates to the basic research question of the current study: The basic research question of the current study reads as follows: does Facebook usage have negative impacts on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective sense of well-being?
With respect to the qualification of data sources utilized in the current study, all data sources were scholarly peer-reviewed publications from professional, academic journals in the field of communications and/or psychology. In addition to the use of scholarly peer-reviewed articles, other sources including scholarly books and articles by qualified researchers and scientists were also consulted and/or directly utilized. Each and every data source used in the current study was qualified according to compliance with professional standards for research and publication. Summarily, research focus, herein, was placed on studies that were directly related to the basic research question of the current study.
As for data collection procedures, the process was initiated with a general survey of peer-reviewed articles and scholarly publications related to the basic research question of the current study. Thereafter, the best sources (i.e., those that were most relevant to the basic research question) were selected for closer evaluation and analysis. Overall, the data source selection process was guided by logical analysis and consideration for the relevance and relation of each data source. Additionally, the evaluation was based on the overall quality, validity, reliability, and limitations of the respective data sources.
As for analysis procedures for the current research project, the basic algorithm involved a step-by-step process from general summation to cross-referencing of similarities and differences in research findings. As such, the first step of the data analysis process involved the production of general summaries of each data source. Next, detailed descriptions were produced based on a critical analysis of the data sources. With the detailed summaries in hand, the next step in the data analysis process involved a logical comparison and contrasting of the findings of the researchers. This step yielded insights concerning the logical continuity and relationships between the various articles and scholarly publications. Thereafter, the literature review section of the current study was produced and arranged in a topical/thematic manner. In support of the discussion of findings (i.e., the interpretation of the literature review), consideration was given to the need for providing a fair and balanced treatment of the issues.
As a matter of explaining the basic rationale for utilizing a qualitative research methodology for the current report, it was recognized that the scientific validity of qualitative research has been questioned for many years by some scientists and researchers. The long-held consensus in the scientific community (especially in the natural sciences) is that quantitative research represents a more reliable and more scientifically valid form of research than the so-called subjective methods of the qualitative research paradigm. In recent years, however, the scientific community has begun to realize that qualitative research is a viable research methodology and paradigm. This is especially true in the case of research involving complex subjects and topics like human behavior that cannot be readily reduced to a set of measurable independent, dependent, and controlled variables. In addition to the limitations of quantitative/positivist approaches to human behavior, qualitative research methodologies enable researchers and investigators to describe, detail, and analyze complex phenomena like human behavior in rich and diverse ways. In sum, the basic rationale and justification for the utilization of the qualitative research methodology concern its strong support for the purpose of the current study – namely, to understand in a comprehensive manner whether Facebook usage has negative impacts on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective sense of well-being.
The following section of the current study presents a critical discussion of findings. Generally, it is argued, herein, that comparison and analysis of the findings and conclusions of the literature review section support the basic thesis of the current study. Specifically, the thesis of the current study stated that Facebook usage can have negative impacts on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective sense of well-being. However, these types of negative effects do not occur for all Facebook users. The current study has found significant support for the claim, more precisely, that Facebook users bring certain personality traits, behavior patterns, and psychological qualities to the table. Specifically, personal, behavioral, and conditional factors that determine whether or not Facebook use negatively impacts psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective sense of well-being include: i) co-rumination, ii) depressive rumination, iii) quality of attachments, iv) degree/level of neuroticism, v) personality factors like extroversion, introversion, and passivity.
If the findings of Kross et al. (2013) are correct, then it must be concluded that superficially Facebook provides hundreds of millions of people worldwide with a platform for meeting basic human needs for social interaction, social communication, and the building of social relationships. The operational term is, however, “superficial.” In other words, the findings of these researchers would indicate that Facebook, without any consideration for moderating variables (i.e., co-rumination; depressive rumination; quality of attachments; degree/level of neuroticism; personality factors like extroversion, introversion, and passivity) is a wholesale social disaster of sorts in terms of its negative impacts on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and subjective well-being.
As the finding of numerous other researchers clearly suggests, Facebook can have negative psychological impacts on users but in a manner consistent with the thesis of the current study. In other words, personal, behavioral, and conditional factors almost invariably determine whether or not Facebook usage negatively impacts psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective sense of well-being. In support of the thesis of the current study, Kim and Lee (2011) found, for example, that certain behavioral variables and conditional variables determine and/or moderate the impact of Facebook use on psychological constructs like subjective well-being. With respect to the number of Facebook friends, it makes perfect sense from a social psychology point of view that Facebook users with a moderate number of friends would tend to have some degree of authentic social support. These types of users are not orientated to superficial encounters with mass numbers of people or neurotic focus on a select few Facebook friends. For these types of users, in other words, nothing stands in the way of virtual friends offering meaningful relationships (Wittkower, 2010). Further, it is no surprise that Facebook users who believe that their network of friends is just that, i.e., real friends, will have positive experiences on the platform in the case of honest presentation. In other words, for the Facebook user who has real/authentic friends and reaches out to those friends for support, honest presentation improves subjective well-being because users receive validation of the truth about themselves (Pigliucci, 2012). Conversely, when Facebook users are fully aware of the superficiality of their friendships and relationships on this social networking platform, it would stand to reason that they would not take too seriously the comments and/or criticisms of their Facebook compatriots. Therefore, for this type of self-aware Facebook user, the opportunity to present self in a positive manner amounts to a healthy exercise in visualizing a better self in terms of the nature of identity, self-esteem, and subjective well-being. Interestingly, this type of positive projection is recognized by researchers as a way to develop a healthy and more mature self-concept and identity (Shaffer, 2009). Thus, while some researchers fear that Facebook use is ultimately damaging to psychological constructs like identity, such claims must be qualified as only being true for certain types of users who are prone to the moderating effects of co-rumination, depressive rumination, and so forth.
As a matter of summing up the findings of the current study, it is often presumed that computer-mediated communication is, in and of itself, inherently deleterious psychologically with respect to impacts on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and subjective well-being (Wright & Webb, 2011). Generally speaking, the findings of the current study refute this generalized claim on the basis of a more informed and qualified perspective. In so many words, the work of Gonzales and Hancock (2011) demonstrates the common saying that “one can use a hammer to pound nails or crack a skull.” The point, more exactly, is that Facebook users can use this communication platform for the benefit of their own identity and sense of belonging, self-esteem, and/or subjective well-being, or they can use it to beat themselves up. Moderating factors take center stage in understanding how Facebook use will play itself out with respect to the psychological consequences – good or bad. Facebook users who use this platform under the inauspicious influence of ruminating depression, low sense of self-efficacy, pre-disposition to jealousy and envy, and so forth will be prone to experiencing negative impacts on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective sense of well-being. On the other hand, psychologically healthy Facebook users who utilize this social networking platform to support relationship building, communication, peer engagement, and the like will find, most often, that Facebook is psychologically helpful, not harmful. Summarily, this is precisely the reason why Anderson et al. (2012) sum up Facebook psychology as an opportunity for either boosting or diminishing self-esteem based on how a particular Facebook recipient responds to positive and/or negative feedback and comments from other Facebook users.
In extending the point, the findings of Kuss and Griffiths (2011) suggest that people are motivated to use Facebook as a way of managing offline social networks. In this respect, there is nothing surprising or scientifically mystifying about the fact that Facebook use can result in negative impacts on identity, self-esteem, and subjective sense of well-being. In other words, people have been using telephones to stay in touch with their loved ones and friends for almost a century. Now, Facebook offers a more complex and powerful way to do this. By implication, Facebook users who have family relationship problems (i.e., attachment disorders) and other interpersonal issues within their circle of family, friends, and relationships, will predictably experience negative psychological and emotional outcomes as Facebook use serves to exacerbate already dysfunctional relationships (Leifer & Fleck, 2013). In other words, if reaching out and connecting with a family member face-to-face has historically resulted in negative consequences to identity, self-esteem, and subjective well-being, why would Facebook be any different for that person? (Kuss & Griffiths, 2011).
The findings of Krasnova et al. (2013) suggest that Facebook users who engage in passive participation experience exacerbated feelings of envy along with a decrease in life satisfaction, and provide further support for the thesis of the current study. The point, more exactly, is that people who fit this profile have personality deficiencies in the area of emotional intelligence - i.e., a lack of emotional self-awareness and regulatory control (Matthews, Zeidner & Roberts, 2004). Accordingly, Facebook users who engage in social networking in a proactive and emotionally self-regulated manner would not tend to experience pathological feelings of envy and consequential decreases in life satisfaction. Facebook use can, of course, promote public self-focus, leading to self-referential processing when making social judgments. Online monologue communication may be more harmful to perspective-taking than previously understood - cognitive distortion (Wen-Bin & Chun-Chia, 2013). The question must, therefore, be asked as to whether cognitive distortion about self implies that Facebook can be a vehicle for negative impacts on variables like identity, self-esteem, and a subjective sense of well-being? The answer would appear to be yes according to (Davila, et al., 2012). Facebook can be a vehicle for negative impacts on variables like identity, self-esteem, and a subjective sense of well-being. But a person’s psychological condition determines what he/she experiences. In other words, someone who uses Facebook to have a “pity party” will tend to hurt self-identity, self-esteem, and a subjective sense of well-being (Davila, et al., 2012). For psychologically healthy people, using Facebook is not, however, predictive of negative impacts on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective well-being.
In conclusion, it is often asserted by some researchers that with computer-mediated communication like Facebook "technology proposes itself as the architect of our intimacies” and a substitute for reality (Turkle, 2011, p. 1). It is, therefore, feared that Facebook use will generally result in negative impacts on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and subjective well-being. Findings of the study suggest that, for some people (qualified by personal, behavioral, and/or conditional factors), Facebook usage can have negative impacts on psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and subjective sense of well-being. Specifically, personal, behavioral, and conditional factors that determine whether or not Facebook use negatively impacts psychological constructs like identity, self-esteem, and/or subjective sense of well-being include: i) co-rumination, ii) depressive rumination, iii) quality of attachments, iv) degree/level of neuroticism, and v) personality factors like extroversion, introversion, and passivity.
Perhaps the most important “take-aways” from the current study are best derived from a simple commentary of humankind’s relationship to technology. It has been suggested in the study that technology is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. Much of whether or not Facebook serves positive psychological outcomes boils down to moderating factors. But even further, Facebook users ultimately decide for themselves whether this social networking platform will serve their own good or demise. Facebook users, in other words, are responsible for their own states of psychological and/or emotional being, how they interact with others, what they say and do inside the network, and so forth. So in actuality, different perspectives on the basic research question of the current study boil down to the age-old philosophical debate: determinism versus free will. Important questions, thus, emerge: are Facebook users just victims of an endless chain of events beyond their personal control (i.e., determinism)? Or, are people masters of their own fate and psychological outcomes? Are human beings self-determined beings living according to the consequences and outcomes of freewill?
The findings of the current study must be acknowledged with respect to basic limitations. Although justification has been provided for the use of a qualitative methodology supported primarily by a literature review, only 30 sources were utilized. The actual breadth and scope of contemporary research, in other words, extends beyond the framework presented in the current study. Also, the findings are limited by the fact that Facebook is an evolving social networking platform. The findings of the current study, more exactly, might be different a year from now or in the more distant future. As such, it is recommended that future research be focused on examining the psychological impacts of Facebook use according to emergent and new features of this social networking platform.
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