1-Click Happiness: Log on for Self-Esteem

View your Facebook profile, get a boost

Facebook, what would we do without it? Just six months ago we visited a plethora of research on the social networking site, now we’re back with more: new research shows that after participants spent just five minutes examining their own Facebook profiles, they experienced a significant boost in self-esteem (click here for the full article).

The thinking goes that you curate your Facebook profile to show an ideal version of yourself. This version of self can provide beneficial psychological effects and influence behavior, according to Catalina Toma, who used the Implicit Association Test to measure Facebook users’ self-esteem after they spent time looking at their profiless.

The test measures how quickly participants associate positive or negative adjectives with words such as me, my, I and myself. “If you have high self-esteem, then you can very quickly associate words related to yourself with positive evaluations but have a difficult time associating words related to yourself with negative evaluations,” Toma says. “But if you have low self-esteem, the opposite is true.”

“We wanted to know if there are any additional psychological effects that stem from viewing your own self-enhancing profile,” says Toma, who then assessed performance in a serial subtraction task—how quickly and accurately participants count down from a large number by intervals of seven.

After people spent time on their own profile they attempted fewer answers during the allotted time than people in a control group, but their error rate was not any worse. Thus, Toma says that the self-esteem boost ultimately diminished participants’ performance. She postulates that the self-esteem boost decreased participants’ motivation to perform well, which is in line with the self-affirmation theory, which claims that people manage their feelings of self worth. “Performing well in a task can boost feelings of self-worth,” Toma says. “However, if you already feel good about yourself because you looked at your Facebook profile, there is no psychological need to increase your self-worth by doing well in a laboratory task.”

Bottom line: Curate your profile to your heart’s content, and use it to remind you of just how awesome YOU are.

Image: Some rights reserved by hope_art

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