'Wow! Is that Me?' Facebook Profiles Boost Young Adults' Self-Esteem
Social Network Sites, such as Facebook, offer unique potential for users to create an ideal version of themselves. According to a study published in Media Psychology exposure to one’s own Facebook profile can increase a young adult’s self-esteem. However, it also can reduce the user’s motivation to perform well on brain training tasks.
- Exposure to one’s own Facebook profile can have positive and negative effects.
- On the positive side, looking at one’s own profile can boost the user’s self-esteem.
- However, browsing one’s own Facebook profile reduces user’s motivation to perform well on mental tasks.
- Policy makers should know that they can boost young adults’ self-esteem by stimulating exposure to their own Facebook profiles, but should be careful not to curb their academic ambitions.
How does exposure to their own Facebook profile affect young adults’ self-esteem and mental skills?
159 undergraduate students, between the ages of 18 and 35 (mean age: 18 years; 70% women)
Northeastern United States
The researchers divided the undergraduate students in two groups. In one group students were asked to examine their own Facebook profile (e.g., wall posts, photos, and videos) and temporarily “friend” the researchers on Facebook. In the other group students were asked to examine the profile of a student from the other group. Immediately after both groups filled out a questionnaire on self-esteem and completed a brain training task (e.g., counting down from a large number by intervals of seven).
Facts and findings
- Students who spent as little as five minutes looking at their own profile experienced a boost in self-esteem compared with the students who examined a stranger’s profile.
- In addition, the students that were exposed to their own Facebook profile were less motivated to perform on brain training tasks (e.g., counting down from a large number by intervals of seven).
- An explanation for this finding is that the students already felt good about themselves because they looked at their Facebook profile. Thus, they did not need to increase their self-esteem by performing well on the brain training tasks.
- Critical note: This study only investigated students’ motivation to perform well on mental tasks, but not how they performed on these tasks.
- Critical note: This study does not allow for any conclusions about cause (e.g., looking at one’s own Facebook profile) and effect (e.g., student’s self-esteem and motivation to perform). The results only show that looking at one’s own Facebook profile is associated with self-esteem and motivation to perform.