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You Seem Happier Than Me (At Least on Facebook)


by ScienceGuy on February 29, 2012 in Blog, Featured, GoNews!

According to a study by Hui-Tzu Grace Chou


and Nicholas Edge in a recent issue of They
Are Happier and Having Better Lives than I
Am: The Impact of Using Facebook on

Perceptions of Others Lives, at least one


form of social networking may not facilitate
sociability after all. Facebook friends may
not only misinterpret the level of happiness
of each other, but may actually become
unhappy on the site.
The authors Chou and Edge at the
Department of Behavioral Science, Utah Valley University, Orem, Utah studied the
lives of 425 undergraduate students across myriad academic disciplines from a local
state university.
They found that the longer one is on Facebook the more apt he or she is to perceive
that life is unfair. According to the study, those who have used Facebook longer
agreed more that others were happier, and agreed less that life is fair, and those
spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier
and had better lives.
Interestingly, the study spotlights a well-known elephant in the room when it comes
to Facebook truisms that a friend on Facebook may actually be a stranger.
Moreover, those study participants who said they didnt know some of their Facebook
friends personally agreed more that others had better lives.
At a time when Facebook is planning a multi-billion-dollar IPO, the site has come
under re for an array of ills everything from messing up married couples lives to
intruding upon ones privacy. Some even bemoan the chore of responding to so many

requests daily, including reading updates from the aforementioned unfamiliar


friends.
Chou and Edge examined the impact of using Facebook on peoples perceptions of
others lives. It is argued that those with deeper involvement with Facebook will have
dierent perceptions of others than those less involved due to two reasons, the
study found. Firstly, Facebook users usually base judgments on examples easily
recalled, what is called the availability heuristic; and secondly, Facebook users tend
to attribute the positive content presented on Facebook to others personality, rather
than situational factors, or what is called correspondence bias.
In another paper, Misery Has More Company Than People Think: Underestimating
the Prevalence of Others Negative Emotions, researcher Alexander H. Jordan, et. al
nd that these studies suggest that people may think they are more alone in their
emotional diculties than they really are, a tacit observation ostensibly also found by
the Utah researchers.
In Jordans paper, four studies document underestimations of the prevalence of
others negative emotions and suggest causes and correlates of these erroneous
perceptions. As with Chous paper, studies show that people may think they are more
alone in their emotional distress than are. In one part of the Misery study, lower
estimations of the prevalence of negative emotional experiences, predicted greater
loneliness and rumination and lower life satisfaction, while, higher estimations for
positive emotional experiences, predicted greater life satisfaction.

One Response to You Seem Happier Than Me (At Least on Facebook)


Josephine March 21, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

REPLY

This study actually conrms something my friend and I were just talking
about the other day- going on Facebook sometimes makes us depressed. A lot
of times, it seems like my friends on Facebook have much more amazing lives
than I do. After I graduated from college, I took an unpaid internship rather than
a full-time job and I would always see stories pop up on my newsfeed on
Facebook about friends from high school or college who were the same age as

me and found (what appeared to be) amazing jobs and were living fabulous lives
in NYC. It denitely made me jealous, but also unhappy b/c I felt like they were
so much more successful and adult-like.
Also, as for the elephant in the room, that peoples friends on Facebook are in
actuality strangers, this is SO true. I have tons of friends who are people I met in
college once at a party, people who were seniors when I was a freshman and
whom I never really got to know, and people from high school whom I never
once talked to. I think this phenomenon of becoming friends with virtual
strangers is really strange, but its something everyone does!

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