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Checking Your Facebook Profile Can Help Boost Self-Esteem: Study

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March 02, 2011

Checking Your Facebook Profile Can Help Boost Self-Esteem: Study

By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Contributor

Had a rough day? Feeling down in the dumps? The best remedy may be a quick visit to your favorite social networking site.

A recent Cornell University study has found that viewing one's own Facebook (News - Alert) page may actually enhance self-esteem – at least for the short term.

For the study, co-author Jeffrey Hancock, an associate professor of communication, and his colleagues from the university's Social Media Lab recruited 63 students to spend just a few minutes in front of a computer.

Some of the respondents were allowed to spend three minutes browsing through their own Facebook page, while the others were forced to sit in front of a computer that was not turned on. A portion of the monitors that weren't plugged in were equipped with mirrors, making some participants gaze into their own reflections throughout the study period.

The research team found that the subset of participants who checked out their own Facebook page during the study reported the highest levels of self-esteem on a follow-up questionnaire. Those who made modifications to their page reported the most positive level of feedback.

“Unlike a mirror, which reminds us of who we really are and may have a negative effect on self-esteem if that image does match with our ideal, Facebook can show a positive version of ourselves,” Hancock noted in a press release. “We’re not saying that it’s a deceptive version of self, but it’s a positive one.”

"For many people, there's an automatic assumption that the internet is bad," he added. "This is one of the first studies to show that there's a psychological benefit of Facebook."

While the researchers were unable to pinpoint the exact reason why looking at a Facebook profile can boost a user's self-esteem, it may be due to the self-selective nature of the platform, where only hand-picked photos and hundreds of friends are allowed.

The Cornell study contrasts other research that suggests Facebook can be a driver of negative behavior, such as bullying, hacking and eating disorders.

Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Tammy Wolf

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