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Updated 02 April 2013

Facebook can be psychologically meaningful

Being on Facebook can bolster people's self-confidence, a new study suggests.

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After conducting experiments with 88 undergraduate students, researchers from Cornell University concluded that Facebook profiles offer people reassurance about their self-worth because the profiles allow them to display their most valued personal traits and relationships.

The researchers also discovered that after receiving criticism, Facebook users unconsciously go back to their online profiles to boost their sense of self-esteem.

The findings appear in the March issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Facebook can boost well-being

"The conventional wisdom is that Facebook use is merely a time sink and leads to an assortment of negative consequences," study co-author Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication and computer and information science, said in a Cornell news release. "But our research shows that it can be a psychologically meaningful activity that supplies a sense of well-being at a relatively deep level.

"The extraordinary amount of time people spend on Facebook may be a reflection of its ability to satisfy ego needs that are fundamental to the human condition," he added.

Viewing their Facebook profile may provide emotional benefits to millions of social network users by restoring deeply held notions of themselves as good people loved by a group of friends and family, Hancock said.

"Perhaps online daters who are anxious about being single or recently divorced may find comfort in the process of composing or reviewing their online profiles, as it allows them to reflect on their core values and identity," he said. "Students who are feeling stressed about upcoming exams might similarly find solace in their social-networking-site profiles."

More information

The Nemours Foundation outlines how to build children's self-esteem.

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