A Facebook profile is an idealized version of self that can provide beneficial
psychological effects and influence behavior, U.S. researchers say.
A person spending just 5 minutes examining their own Facebook profile full of photos and posts selected for the eyes of family, friends and acquaintances can experience a significant boost in self-esteem, a study at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said.
Catalina Toma, a professor of communication arts, used a procedure known as the Implicit Association Test to measure Facebook users' self-esteem after they spent time looking at their profiles.
The test measures how quickly participants associate positive or negative adjectives with words such as me, my, I and myself.
"If you have high self-esteem, then you can very quickly associate words related to yourself with positive evaluations but have a difficult time associating words related to yourself with negative evaluations," Toma said.
She said she chose to use the Implicit Association Test because it cannot be faked, unlike more traditional self-reporting tools.
"Our culture places great value on having high self-esteem. For this reason, people typically inflate their level of self-esteem in self-report questionnaires," she said. "The Implicit Association Test removes this bias."
The findings suggest social network use and self-perception are strongly linked, the researchers said.
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