Facebook Promotes Positivity

Social media users respond positively when using Facebook

(RxWiki News) Psych health professionals studying Facebook have demonstrated that the site has both ups and downs for the mental health of its subscribers, but the latest research suggests it may help more than it hurts.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology psycho-physiologist from Italy and four of his native colleagues studied biological cues of Facebook browsers, such as perspiration, heart rate, breathing patterns, and pupil activity, to determine their stress levels.

The evidence shows that Facebook use inspires a unique emotional and behavioral state in a person that is overall exciting and personal.

"Use Facebook to connect with family, friends, and old acquaintances. "

Lead author on the study, Maurizio Mauri, Ph.D., studies body response in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department of MIT. Dr. Mauri and his team believe the response that’s triggered in our bodies when we’re viewing Facebook may be able to explain for its rapid success.

Published online through the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 30 healthy Facebook users from universities in Milan participated in the study.

The students, ages 18 to 25, were analyzed for 3-minutes while they watched a soothing slideshow of nature, browsed through their Facebook, and then engaged in associative and mathematical tasks. The slideshow acted as a relaxation control while the cognitive exercises acted as a stressor.

The doctors collected measures of blood pressure, respiratory activity, pupil dilation, perspiration, as well as monitoring electrical activity of the brain and other muscles in the body.

Dr. Mauri and his co-authors write, “This study shows results that support the hypothesis that Facebook use is able to generate an experience marked by a specific psycho-physiological pattern in comparison to relaxation and stress situations, correlating in particular with an affective state characterized by high positive [emotions] and high arousal.”

When browsing through Facebook, the participants were jovial, excited, and much different from their states of relaxation or stress.

While no conflicts were reported during the course of the study, Dr. Mauri believes the research lacks insight into the user's full experience with Facebook.  Although their study investigated the relationship between the user and the overall system, the authors did not focus on what aspects of the site provide the most joy.  

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Review Date: 
February 8, 2012