Study: Why Do People Use Facebook?

An interesting post from over at ReadWriteWeb which looks at a number of studies on why people choose to use Facebook.

What Types of People Use Facebook? A Cyberpsychology Approach

A 2009 study by Ross et al. found that personality types that ranked high on neuroticism claimed the Facebook Wall as their favorite component. People who were low on neuroticism, however, said photos were their favorite. A 2009 study by E.S. Orr, et. al. found that while shy individuals had fewer friends on Facebook relative to nonshy people, the shy individuals spent more time on Facebook and liked the social network more overall.

A 2010 study entitled “Narcissism and social networking web sites” found a positive association between narcissism and Facebook use, especially in relation to profiles and photos, both features that allow users to promote themselves. The study found that people with a high level of narcissism and people with low levels of self-esteem spent more than an hour per day on Facebook.


We All Want To Be A Part…Of Something: Facebook and the Dual-Factor Model

This last part of the study looked at Facebook use in individualistic versus, which emphasize individual achievements and success, versus collectivistic cultures, which focus on harmony within the group. In these cultures, individual gain is less important than the social group. The study hypothesizes that “members from individualistic cultures are more likely to share private information with their Facebook friends and more likely to raise potentially controversial topics as compared to Facebook users from collectivistic cultures.”

People in collectivist cultures are more likely to stay in troubled marriages and jobs than people in individualistic cultures according to a 2000 study by Diener. As such, Facebook can serve as a support system for those people in collectivist cultures, who have frequent interactions and a close circle of Facebook friends.

A study called “Mirror, Mirror on my Facebook wall: Effects of exposure to Facebook on self-esteem,” looked at the results of being exposed to information presented on one’s Facebook profile, suggesting that it can help enhance self-esteem. This proved especially true when a person edited information about the self.


The Bottom Line: Facebook Fulfills Our Need for Self-Presentation

Studies have found that on Facebook, the self you portray is not idealized – it is the real you. But a 2008 study by Zhao, Grasmuck & Martin found that the Facebook selves appeared to be socially desirable identities that individuals aspired to have offline but do not have – yet. Furthermore, identities created on Facebook differed greatly from those constructed in anonymous online environments.


So, Why Are We Really Using Facebook?

Facebook currently has 800 million users worldwide. According to the study, people use Facebook to fulfill two basic social needs: the need to belong and the need for self-presentation. Facebook use is also influenced by outside factors, such as cultural background, sociodemographic variables and personality traits.

For the full post, click here

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