NEW YORK – In a bad mood? Head to Facebook and find someone worse off!
When people are in a bad mood, they are more likely to actively search social networking sites such as Facebook to find friends who are doing even worse than they are, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that, in general, people use social media to connect with people who are posting positive and success-oriented updates.
“But when people are in a negative mood, they start to show more interest in the less attractive, less successful people on their social media sites,” said Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, co-author of the study and professor of communication at The Ohio State University.
These findings give more context to recent studies that found people who spend a lot of time on Facebook tend to be more frustrated, angry and lonely ? presumably because of all the happy updates from friends that make them feel inadequate.
“People have the ability to manage how they use social media,” said Benjamin Johnson, co-author of the study, an assistant professor at VU University Amsterdam.
“Generally, most of us look for the positive on social media sites. But if you’re feeling vulnerable, you’ll look for people on Facebook who are having a bad day or who aren’t as good at presenting themselves positively, just to make yourself feel better,” said Johnson.
Overall, the researchers found that people tended to spend more time on the profiles of people who were rated as successful and attractive.
But participants who had been put in a negative mood spent significantly more time than others browsing the profiles of people who had been rated as unsuccessful and unattractive.
“One of the great appeals of social network sites is that they allow people to manage their moods by choosing who they want to compare themselves to,” Knobloch-Westerwick said.
The study was published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour.