Facebook can hurt users with low self-esteem, study claims

Petya ransomware outbreak shows hackers are getting smarter—but the rest of the world is not
To avoid a truly devastating cyberattack, the world must get ahead of the criminals.

See all Editor's Picks

Frowning girl

Users express less patience for bummer messages when they’re presented by users with low self-esteem. 

Does Facebook have a positive effect on users with low self-esteem?

That’s the question two researchers from the University of Waterloo attempted to answer in a series of studies published last month in Psychological Science.

What the researchers found, however, suggests that the social-networking site may not be as beneficial for this group as once hypothesized.

“The results of the three studies reported here … suggest that the way in which people with low self-esteem use Facebook may prevent them from reaping its potential social benefits,” the publication reported.

First, the researchers measured whether Facebook users with low self-esteem found the site to be an appealing venue for expression.

“Our first study revealed that people with low self-esteem feel that Facebook is a safe and comfortable place to share their feelings and connect with others,”  Mandy Forest, one of the authors of the publication, told the Daily Dot.

A regression model in the second study, however, revealed that users with low-self esteem tend to express more negative viewpoints.

The third study looked at the effects of this negative communication by giving a handful of status updates to friends and strangers to assess. The results showed that other users got tired of negative posts coming from individuals with low self-esteem more quickly than their high-self-esteem counterparts.

Other studies have suggested that users with low self-esteem may receive benefits from Facebook use, though. For example, a study conducted at the Michigan State University in 2007 suggested that users with low self-esteem feel more connected to their local community.

Forest said that these studies are not contrary to her findings:

“I can see how using Facebook…could help people with low self-esteem to feel connected to others. … However, I think that our studies capture something that Facebook users may not be aware of: that other people dislike the negative updates that people with low self-esteem tend to post.”

The results of the findings concluded that, while Facebook users with low self-esteem may find the site appealing, their communication of negative thoughts on the site could backfire.

“I think the real take-away message is that Facebook provides a fantastic opportunity to connect with others in a comfortable environment,” said Forest, “but the way in which you use it matters.”

Photo by FranUlloa

Study reveals new ways Facebook can cost you a job
It's not just about that photo of you drinking a beer anymore.
From Our VICE Partners

Pure, uncut internet. Straight to your inbox.