When people are in a bad mood they are more likely to surf social networking sites like Facebook, Google+, a new study suggests. In negative mood people search social networking sites to find who are doing even worse than they are, according to research conducted by Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, co-author of the study and professor of communication at The Ohio State University.
Research found that, in general, people use social media to connect with people who are posting positive and success-oriented updates. “But when people are in a negative mood, they start to show more interest in the less attractive, less successful people on their social media sites,” Silvia said.
The study supports and provides a strong base to recent studies that suggests, people who spend a lot of time social networking sites like Facebook end up being more frustrated, angry, depressed and isolated.
“People have the ability to manage how they use social media,” said Benjamin Johnson, co-author of the study, an assistant professor at VU University Amsterdam. “Generally, most of us look for the positive on social media sites. But if you’re feeling vulnerable, you’ll look for people on Facebook who are having a bad day or who aren’t as good at presenting themselves positively, just to make yourself feel better,” Johnson added.
The study was conducted over 168 college students. Researchers deliberately changed their mood to good or bad by telling them about their performance, regardless of their answers.
All the students were asked to review a new social networking site named, SocialLink. The home page of the site presented preview profiles of eight individuals, which the students could click on to read more. Profile picture was kept blurred so that participants could not see what they actually look like. The key to the study was that the eight profiles were designed to make the people profiled appear attractive and successful – or unattractive or unsuccessful. Each student was rated on a scale of zero to five.
On the basis of the study, researchers found that generally people spent more time on the profile of people who were rated successful and attractive. But students who were in a negative mood spent more time on the profile of people who were rated unsuccessful and unattractive.
“One of the great appeals of social network sites is that they allow people to manage their moods by choosing who they want to compare themselves to,” Knobloch-Westerwick said.