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Facebook keeps company with misery say boffins

The more you Like, the less you like yourself

The more you use Facebook, the worse you feel. That's the headline finding from a new study University of Michigan published on PlosOne this week.

Of course, that could mean that the unhappy are turning to Facebook to help them cope, but across the study's sample, the University of Michigan researchers found Facebook use today a pretty reliable indicator of someone's sense of well-being.

The researchers worked on two metrics: affective well-being (that is, an on-the-spot assessment of mood), and cognitive well-being (are you satisfied with life?). These were tested by sending the participants in the study SMS messages five times a day, with each message offering participants a link to an online survey. Responses to those surveys were then associated with participants' Facebook use. The researchers also applied a standardised questionnaire – the Satisfaction With Life Questionnaire – at the beginning and end of the 14-day sampling period.

The results suggested two things, the researchers write: “The more people used Facebook at one time point, the worse they felt the next time we text-messaged them; the more they used Facebook over two-weeks, the more their life satisfaction levels declined over time.”

Interestingly, these results worked independently of the size of the participants' Facebook networks, how supportive people thought their Facebook networks were, or factors such as gender, loneliness, self-esteem or depression.

That independence from other factors leads the researchers to speculate that “rather than enhancing well-being … Facebook may undermine it.”

Whatever the impact Facebook makes on one's well-being, Vulture South imagines it won't be worse than the emotional toll wrought by moderating the comments bound to land under this story. ®

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