We often associate prolonged social media use with people who are more, well, social. After all, websites like Facebook and Twitter were originally designed for people to keep in touch with friends in the virtual world. That is why many were intrigued to learn that multiple studies conducted by Pavica Sheldon have surprising conclusions about Facebook and their primary and long-term users.
University of Alabama’s Pavica Sheldon, an associate professor in the Communication Arts Department, discovered that introverted people actually tend to use Facebook longer than people who were described as extroverted, according to Phys.org. The professor, who published the study “‘I’ll poke you. You’ll poke me!’ Self-disclosure, social attraction, predictability and trust as important predictors of Facebook relationships” on the journal CyberPsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research On Cyberspace, said that shy people were found to use Facebook longer. However, there is a catch to that intriguing conclusion.
Although introverts spend more time on Facebook than extroverts, Dr. Sheldon discovered that shy people didn’t post or upload as much as those who were more socially active Facebook users. “The shy people spend more time on Facebook, but they disclose less information,” says Dr. Sheldon.
According to Sheldon’s research, it is ultimately the extroverts who benefit from the social advantages of social media platforms like Facebook. despite findings that confirm that shy people used the services longer. Because shy people posted less than extroverted users, the “narcissist” advantages of Facebook benefited those who virtually connected with friends through statuses and pictures. On this seemingly unfair advantage, Sheldon introduced an interesting explanation.
“What I found out is that my research supports the ‘rich get richer’ hypothesis. Those users who are richer in their offline relationships will also benefit more from their use of Facebook. The more extroverted you are, the more you will benefit.”
In other words, people who desired to have better control of their online presence benefited more from the services of Facebook, regardless of how significantly less they actually used the website compared to introverted people.
Other intriguing psychological findings have been linked to Facebook use since it gained massive popularity in recent years. In 2013, according to the Guardian Liberty Voice, scientist Ethan Kross discovered that Facebook can actually cause depression among its users. Kross explains that although Facebook appears to fulfill a vast number of social needs for the average user, the website might actually be contributing to mental and psychological pains of its members. According to Kross, the longer a user spent time on Facebook, the more he or she became susceptible to depression.
Perhaps, in future studies, researchers will be able to link Kross’ study with that of Sheldon’s, to determine whether prolonged Facebook use have drastic psychological effects on its users.
[Image from Master OSM 2011/Flickr]