Facebook users let secrets out

By Amelia Wade

File Photo / AP
File Photo / AP

What you post, comment on and say on Facebook reveals more about your self-esteem than you perhaps realise, psychologists say.

In theory, the social networking website seems beneficial for people with low self-esteem, giving them the opportunity to share experiences, thoughts and likes with other users.

But a North American study found that, in practice, those with low self-esteem tended to behave counterproductively, bombarding their online friends with "negative tidbits" about their lives and making themselves less likeable.

The University of Waterloo study, published in the journal Psychological Science, aimed to explore self-esteem and how it affected online behaviour.

People with low self-esteem were often uncomfortable sharing face-to-face, but Facebook made it possible to share remotely, the study suggested.

The study found people with low self-esteem were more likely to think Facebook gave an opportunity to connect with other people, and to see it as a safe place that reduced the risk of awkward social situations.

The researchers also investigated what the students wrote on Facebook and asked them for their last 10 status updates. Comments included:

* "[Name] is lucky to have such terrific friends and is looking forward to a great day tomorrow!"

*"[Name] is upset b/c her phone got stolen."

Each set of status updates was rated by undergraduate Facebook users for how positive or negative it was and how much they liked the person who wrote them.

The study found that people with low self-esteem were more negative on Facebook than people with high self-esteem, and the students rating their comments liked them less.

"The [students rating the statuses] were strangers, but that's realistic," said Amanda Forest, a graduate student at the university who co-wrote the study.

The study also found that people with low self-esteem got more responses from their Facebook friends when they posted updates that were positive than they did from less positive ones.

People with high self-esteem, on the other hand, got more responses when they posted negative items, perhaps because those were rarer for them.

New Zealand psychologist Sara Chatwin said people who wanted to improve their self-esteem should stop being so negative on Facebook because it made them unattractive to others.

She was not surprised by the study, because whether people were on Facebook or in person, they would always give away their low self-esteem.

What does your Facebook status say about you?

1. The passive-aggressive
Typical status: "Sometimes you just can't trust anybody."
Personality type: They don't ask for what they want, and get annoyed when people don't give them what they expect. Impossible to please.

2. The poor me
Typical status: "I'm ill again; the tenth time this year!"
Personality type: Typical victim. Desires attention of all sorts, even if it's pity.

3. The narcissist
Typical status: "Having a wonderful time in Barbados. Can't believe we were upgraded!"
Personality type: Only wants to show the good and not share the bad. Probably a bit insecure.

4. The baby talker
Typical status: "I love my hubby wubby so much. Miss you baby!"
Personality type: Some couples who talk in baby talk, or fight online, don't have boundaries set in their relationship.
Source: bodyandsoul.com.au

- NZ Herald

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