14 Things Science Has Taught Us About Facebook

Breaking: Everyone has more friends than you and it’s probably not a good idea to stalk people.

1. The more you interact with Facebook, the worse you tend to feel.

Flickr: johanl / Creative Commons

This study involved college students reporting how they felt and how much they’d used Facebook five times a day for two weeks. Higher Facebook use was associated with more negative feelings.

2. And higher Facebook use has also been linked to being less satisfied with your life.

The same study got participants to fill in a life-satisfaction survey before and after the two-week study. The researchers found that people who used Facebook more over the two weeks had a larger decline in life satisfaction.

3. Lurking on Facebook makes you more likely to feel badly after using it.

Probably as a result of envy, although people are reluctant to admit it.

4. The reward center of your brain lights up when you get a Facebook notification.

Like it does when you get praised in real life.

5. And the more your brain responds to praise offline, the more time you are likely to spend on Facebook.

6. Narcissism is associated with wanting to have more friends on Facebook, but not in real life.

Flickr: 59954550@N06 / Creative Commons

Although frequent Facebook use is not indicative of narcissism.

7. On the plus side: Updating your Facebook profile has been shown to boost self-esteem, but not narcissism.

(Updating MySpace was linked to narcissism.)

8. You are less like your Facebook friends than you think.

A study asked Facebook users to answer political questions and say how they think their friends would answer the same questions — and then get those friends to do the same. Turns out, people consistently overestimate how much their friend’s political views aligned with their own.

9. People comment on other people’s Facebook updates more than they post their own.

10. Your Facebook likes probably reveal more than you think they do.

Last year a study showed that a Facebook user’s race, age, IQ, sexuality, personality, substance use, and political views can be predicted based just on the pages they like on Facebook. The researchers were able to distinguish between gay and straight men accurately in 88% of cases, between African-Americans and Caucasian Americans in 95% of cases, and between Democrats and Republicans in 85% of cases.

11. Stalking exes on Facebook really does stop you healing and moving on after a breakup.

It’s not yet clear how accidentally liking one of their photos from 2009 affects the process.

12. Facebook users spend fewer hours per week studying than people who don’t use Facebook.

Even when non-Facebook users spend the same amount of time on the internet. That doesn’t necessarily mean Facebook use is to blame for those lower grades.

13. Your Facebook friends have more friends than you.

On average. This reflects something known to sociologists as the “friendship paradox,” first described by sociologist Scott Feld in 1991. It’s true for the vast majority of people, thanks to a tiny minority who are super popular.

14. But despite all this, access to the internet, especially social networks like Facebook, can make you happier.

Flickr: fbouly / Creative Commons

Especially if you’re a low-income woman.

So don’t feel too guilty about all the time you spend on it.

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