Tag Archives: Facebook

Google+ Invitations: We all want one. Why?

By Erica Zaiser

Those who pay attention to the online world will probably know that Google+ fever is sweeping the blogosphere. Everyone wants an invite to the “Facebook killer” and invites are pretty hard to come by. If you are lucky enough to have one, you can brag about being in the group early and if not, you are left wondering what is going on in there and will you ever get to be a part of it. Invites are in such demand they are even popping up for sale on ebay for as much as $100.

What is the rush and why are we all clamouring to jump on board the Google+ ship when we don’t even know what it’s all about? Well for one, we humans love to belong to groups. And what could be better than belonging to Google+, a group which is entirely based on the ability to form groups. Because Google+ is by invitation only, the boundaries are less permeable than Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and the other social networking sites; anyone can join those simply by signing up. Permeability of boundaries has been linked to group identification in numerous psychology studies. Members of groups with highly permeable boundaries have reduced ingroup identification. So a person who is on Facebook just won’t feel as passionate about being a “Facebook user” as someone who is part of Google+.  Google+ users on the other hand, feel strongly about their membership and are spreading their new ingroup love, which automatically makes Google+ seem pretty cool and exclusive.

We are now willing to buy our way into a group that four days ago didn’t even exist because if there is one thing people hate, it’s being excluded.  By releasing the new social networking site as invite only, Google has created something we want to be part of but most just can’t. In a review of research on social exclusion, Dewall and colleagues (2010) highlight how being left out can cause numerous behavioural and emotional problems. Social exclusion can lead to increased aggression, decrease pro-social behaviour, and even induce actual physical pain. Hopefully more invites will open up before those who are being excluded start suffering the negative effects of social exclusion. And yes, I am still waiting for my invite too.

Read more: Belongingness as a Core Personality Trait: How Social Exclusion Influences Social Functioning and Personality Expression

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Friends and Facebook: Online social behavior- not that different from the real world?

By Erica Zaiser

Continuing with my previous post about Facebook, TIME recently reported on another study using the social networking site. According to the article, researchers in Denver wanted to understand why people “defriend” others in Facebook and what types of behaviours are likely to lead to a break in the online friendship. Unsurprisingly, they found that things are pretty similar in an online social network to a real-life social network. People defriend others much for the same reasons they end real world friendships. People who go on an on about a subject on Facebook were most likely to get defriended followed by people who talk about politics or religion and people who post racist or offensive comments.

As Facebook has grown in popularity so has interest in it as an area of research for social psychologists. Another study looking at Facebook found a relationship between number of friends and impressions about a persons attractiveness and popularity. Generally more friends made participants in the study believe the person was more attractive and popular, but only to a point. When the number of friends became very large (more than 300) people then began to doubt the users popularity and rated the user as being almost as unattractive as those who had very few friends. According to the research, people began to doubt that people had accrued their large number of friends simply because they were extroverted and instead may be making assumptions that the profile owner added friends for other reasons (like they are actually desperate for friends and are just adding whomever they can to look popular).

Facebook and other online  social mediums are interesting to look at for psychologists because its both possible to study unique social phenomenon in the online world but also because behaviours online may help researchers understand behaviours offline. Perhaps in real life, people who are seen as “too social” are sometimes viewed as negatively as people who have just a few friends.

Read more: Too much of a good thing? The relationship between number of friends and interpersonal impressions on Facebook

CNN on Long and ParrisRead more: TIME article: How to lose Facebook friends the fastest.

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Facebook and Narcissism.. Is that flashy photo a mask for low self esteem?

By Erica Zaiser
A recent study by Soraya Mehdizadeh has made the news because it made an interesting connection between Facebook profiles and personality traits like narcissism. The study found that the more times a person checked Facebook, the higher they scored on narcissism. Also, there was a significant relationship between self-promotional content and narcissism scales. According to the study, for women self promotional content tended to include images of “revealing, flashy and adorned photos of their physical appearance” while for men, their “about me” descriptions highlighted their intelligence and wit. However, the study also finds that people with low self-esteem also check their Facebook pages more often.
The link between self-esteem and narcissism has been hard to understand for years despite ample research on both topics. According to a review done by Bossom and colleagues the problem in understanding the connections between narcissism and self-esteem is that some research has shown that narcissism is actually a mask to hide low self-esteem, but other research has failed to show this pattern. According to the review there are several subtypes of narcissism that have different relationships with self-esteem. Furthermore, the research on self-esteem shows that different aspects of the self may be being measured depending on the type of self-esteem measure being used.
The research on Facebook adds an interesting piece to the puzzle as it reveals the way in which both low self-esteem and narcissism are manifesting as the same behaviour on social networking site. The mask theory of narcissism (that it is used to mask low self-esteem) might make sense here as people’s grandiose view of themself is being broadcasted through constant use and updating of their Facebook profiles;  while a need for validation that goes along with deeper low self-esteem is driving them to seek  instant feedback (something Facebook can uniquely provide) from their friends.

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Accuracy online: Social networking sites have you pegged.

In early March of this year, Chris Dixon and Flickr co-founder Caterina Fake launched New York-based Hunch, a so-called “Twitter predictor game” that has a “Ph.D. in insight about people.” In short, with its 82 percent accuracy rate, Hunch takes your Twitter username, looks at the people you follow and the people who follow you and somehow – via an algorithm none of us mere psychologists could even attempt to crack – figures out pretty much anything about you. According to Dixon, “We break people’s taste into about 80 dimensions. Let’s imagine one dimension is political orientation, liberal or conservative, one is gender, one is food preferences, and each of those taste dimensions flows independently through the [Twitter] graph. Depending on who you’re following and who’s following you, we can make inferences about your food preferences or your political preferences.” Eventually, Hunch can even get around to knowing whether or not you’ve ever ridden a Segway or if you know the signs of the zodiac in order.

Scary that a mere Twitter username can reveal so much about you? Perhaps, but then again, you’re probably being very telling in your likes and dislikes manifested by who you choose to follow and the types of people who choose to follow you. Interestingly enough, in a medium that could potentially provide information very far from the truth, it appears that who we really are really does come through – even online.

In a recent article published in Psychological Science entitled “Facebook Profiles Reflect Actual Personality, Not Self-Idealization,” psychologists further show that even when we are allowed the opportunity to manipulate our persona with little real consequence for our actions (say, via Facebook), we just don’t. The authors provide evidence that flat-out disputes the widely held assumption that online social networking (OSN) site profiles are used to create and communicate idealized selves. Instead, findings show that OSN sites constitute an extended social context in which individuals express their actual personality characteristics so that they might form accurate interpersonal perceptions. (Researchers add that it might be difficult to create an idealized self-portrayal on an OSN site because profiles include information about one’s reputation that is difficult to control and friends are able to provide accountability and feedback on your profile.)

It thus appears that we are who we are and there’s no escaping it – even our seemingly anonymous shadows on the Internet tell the truth. Twitter appears to hold data as to who we are that are accessible via knowledge of just our Twitter usernames; further, we appear to want to tell Facebook and other social networking sites who we really are versus who we might really want to be. In short, with all this newfound accuracy, the online communities in which we have become enmeshed might actually be a spot on extension of real life.

Hunch

Hunch on cnet news

Facebook Profiles Reflect Actual Personality, Not Self-Idealization

Cyberbullying– Is the Internet to blame?

After the highly publicized suicides of several US teens, a nation-wide discussion about the dangers of bullying has been sparked. In Massachusetts, 9 teens are facing charges for their bullying, which, prosecutors argue, led to the suicide of 15 year-old Phoebe Prince in January. As in the case of Phoebe Prince, modern bullying often takes place off school grounds in a form that past generations were more protected from. Nowadays, cyberbullying (bullying online or through cell phones) is becoming increasingly common.

An article in Psychology in the Schools outlines some of the elements differentiate cyberbullying from regular bullying. The author reviews past research on online behaviour among children, in an attempt to understand why young people are increasingly becoming involved in cyberbullying. According to the authors, there is much research suggesting that the anonymity of the Internet is fostering disinhibition and reducing concern for others. Psychologists and authors of the book “Mean Girls, Meaner Women” seem to support this; they argue that bullying is becoming increasingly common because young people aren’t being require to interact with each other face-to-face, and instead learn communication skills over the Internet. If this is the case, perhaps we should expect to see an increase in other examples of anti-social behaviour from teens who intensively communicate online.

However,  it also might be a bit unfair to place the blame entirely on the Internet, when other factors (e.g. parenting, education, etc.) probably still play a strong, if not stronger, role in developing children’s sense of right and wrong. Perhaps the Internet provides a new setting for bullies to harass victims, a place harder for victims to get away from. But maybe those kids would have been bullies even before the Internet and cell phones.

Read more: Cyberbullying: A preliminary assessment for school personel.

Facebook, MacRumours, MSN and alternative social identities

Online social networking sites, discussion forums and chat rooms such as those in the title are routinely associated with freedom of expression, critiques of established offline social and personal practices, and the creation of online communities and identities e.g. gamers, metrosexuals (Slouka, 1995; Wellman & Gulia, 1999). The opportunities afforded by these information and communication technologies, via the compression of time and space, allow instantaneousness for users. And also, since the user is not physically present in cyberspace (therefore it is easier to withdraw from problematic situations by exiting an online session, as opposed to a face-to-face interaction), new, alternative and diverse forms of identity and self-expression are able to thrive (Turkle, 1997). Of course, there are both positive and negative outcomes of interactions in cyberspace, which do not require the revealing of participants’ status or situational cues e.g. Peter Chapman’s recent murder conviction. However these social spaces do tend to facilitate a freer flow of information for isolated or ‘non-out’ individuals and groups (Hearn, 2005). Therefore new forms of individual and group identities, and those with identities arguably ridiculed and marginalised in society, can more easily claim these online in an age of almost universal access to cyberspace (Kollock, 1999).

Social networking: Communication revolution or evolution?

Teaching & Learning Guide for: Social Psychology and Media: Critical Consideration

Safeguarding young people from cyber pornography and cyber sexual predation: a major dilemma of the internet

Computer-mediated social support, older adults, and coping

When it comes to your doppelganger – upgrade, but be reasonable.

If you’re reading this blog, then chances are you’re a cool enough person to know that doppelganger-mania has taken over Facebook. Like most trends, only the coolest of Facebookers started doing it – uploading a picture of their supposed look-a-like-celebrity as their profile shot, that is – and then everyone else followed suit within a matter of a single week, just as the established conformity literature would predict. That’s not what is interesting here, however.

Have you taken a minute to consider which celebrities your Facebook friends are uploading as their look-a-likes? Do it now. Open a new window if you must, and browse through their recently updated profile pictures. You should soon notice that you are hard-pressed to find a single unattractive look-a-like celebrity posing as even your ugliest friend’s doppelganger. No one uploads Janet Reno, or Pee-wee Herman, or that cat lady who’s had one too many facelifts – unless of course they are trying to be ironic. In short, your friends are affiliating themselves with good-looking celebrities so that they can ultimately become grouped with higher status people and take on their attributes – perhaps even the non-physical ones. And although their intentions are pure and admittedly self-aggrandizing – in the end, they just want to be liked – this doppelganger trend might inevitably backfire, according to the social psychological research.

According to Sherif and Hovland (1961), changing other people’s perceptions of you can be compared to the act of stretching a rubber band – you can stretch the rubber band only so far so as to climb up the social ladder. Eventually, however, if you overstretch the rubber band, the ties will become too tenuous and the band will snap back – rendering contrast rather than assimilation with the intended target. In brief, if your doppelganger is too attractive, you will appear even less attractive than you already are. Therefore, so as to compel your friends to assimilate you with your celebrity “look-a-like” without hitting a point where they start to contrast you away from him or her, your strategy should be to stretch the rubber band as far as possible without breaking it. So if you think you look like Angelina Jolie, opt for Sarah Silverman; men, if you think you’re a dead-ringer for George Clooney, stay safe and upload Simon Cowell.

Facebook Doppelganger Craze!

The effect of judges’ attitudes on ratings of attitude statements: A theoretical analysis

Sherif, M. & Hovland, C. I. (1961). Social judgment: Assimilation and contrast effects in communication and attitude change. New Haven: Yale University Press.