Many of us on Facebook are familiar with those couples who use the social networking site as a platform to declare their undying love for each other. Annoying as it may be in our newsfeeds, researchers from Albright College in Reading, PA, suggest some of these couples do this to brag about their relationships and keep track of their partner’s activities in order to mitigate fears of rejection.
The researchers presented their findings at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference in Austin, TX, and the Association for Psychological Science conference in San Francisco, CA.
Recently, other studies have investigated how Facebook affects our sense of belonging, and Medical News Today recently presented a feature investigating how social media affects our mental health and well-being.
It is understandable why some people choose to proclaim their love through social media. Assistant Professor Gwendolyn Seidman, of Albright College, surveyed Facebook users who were in romantic relationships and found that those who were happy in their relationship are more likely to use the platform to post photos and details of their relationship, as well as “liking” comments on their partner’s wall.
However, she and her colleague Amanda Havens also found that users high in Relationship Contingent Self-Esteem (RCSE), an unhealthy variety of self-esteem that depends on how well the relationship is going, were also more likely to post affectionate content related to their relationship.
The researchers also found that these users were compelled to brag about their relationship or monitor their partner’s activities on Facebook.
After surveying the participants about their Facebook behaviors and inclinations, the researchers measured the “Big Five” personality traits – openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.
For those participants who were high in RCSE, the researchers found that when something goes wrong in the relationship, it is a bigger hit to their self-esteem than it would be for those low in RCSE.
“These results suggest that those high in RCSE feel a need to show others, their partners and perhaps themselves that their relationship is ‘OK’ and, thus, they are OK,” says Seidman.
She and her colleague observed that the participants who were high in neuroticism were more likely to use Facebook to monitor their partner and show off their relationship.
Seidman says this is what they expected, “given that neurotic individuals are generally more jealous in their romantic relationships,” and adds that these people may use the platform as a means to lessen fears of anxiety and rejection within their relationship.
Contrary to what they expected, they found that extraverts – who are generally more active on Facebook, with more friends – are not as likely to monitor their partners or make affectionate posts on the platform.
On the other hand, introverts are more likely to post affectionate content and to spy on their partner, they add.
In other interesting social media news, Medical News Today recently reported on a study that suggested happy social media status updates encourage happy updates from other users. Meanwhile, another study suggested that viewing too many pictures of food on social media sites can make it less enjoyable to eat.