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Study Claims Too Much Facebook Makes You Unhappy

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January 18th, 2012

Some sociologists at Utah Valley University (long known as “the Harvard of Utah Valley”) have recently concluded a study that examined linkages between happiness and the amount of time people spend on Facebook.

The verdict?

The more time you spend Facebook stalking, the more you start to feel that your life blows.

Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge interviewed 425 undergraduate students at UVU. First they asked them how strongly they agreed or disagreed with statements like “Life if fair” and “Many of my friends have a better life than me.”

Then they asked if they used Facebook (95% said yes), how much time they spend on it per week (on average, about 5 hours), and how many of their “friends” they actually know.

Apparently, the more time people spend on the FB looking at photos of people they barely know have fun and look all happy, the more likely they are to believe life is unfair and believe many of their “friends” have better lives.

Why? Chou says it’s the result of a common psychological phenomenon known as a “correspondence bias”—meaning we draw false conclusions about things based on appearances and limited knowledge. In this case, the students don’t know their Facebook friends that well, but they look like they’re just super happy and cool in all those photos (because no one posts photos of themselves sitting around eating Cheetos in their underwear). So the students’ brains reach the subconscious conclusion that they must be somehow better off.

Meanwhile, those people who spend a lot of time on Facebook but only have real friends as “friends” feel a little better about themselves. That’s because they have more knowledge about these people—i.e., they know for a fact that their lives aren’t perfect, so the pictures don’t bum them out.

And of course, people who don’t use Facebook that much at all, instead doing most of their socializing in person, tend to be happier in general.

So the lesson from all this?

Post more unhappy pictures on Facebook so you don’t go making everybody all depressed. Cause we’re sure as hell not going to cut back on our consumption of social media.

[via Daily Mail]

I am a freelance writer specializing in sports, humor, politics, technology, and, from time to time, pop culture. Also, Esteban is not my real name, but I wish was.
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