How people use Facebook to achieve their goals
You’ve probably heard about the not-so-good effects of Facebook use but here is a theory which provides a more neutral perspective on social media.
A new study from the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany says that people who use Facebook more frequently and have more friends are likely to be materialistic.
Friends on Facebook can be people you know well, not so well and people you don’t know at all and yet all of them are classified as friends.
And materialistic people will have more friends on the social platform because they see people and treat them as “objects.” Now this does not sound good but this new theory developed by researchers through two studies sheds some more light on why and how people behave on Facebook.
For materialistic people, who tend to objectify their Facebook friends, acquiring new friends increases their possessions.
For this study the researchers conducted an online questionnaire of 242 participants who were Facebook users. They were asked to rate their agreement with statements so that the researchers could calculate their Facebook activity (such as “I’m posting photographs”), social comparison orientation (“I often compare how I am doing socially”), materialism (“My life would be better if I owned certain things I don’t have”), objectification of Facebook friends (“Having many Facebook friends contributes more success in my personal and professional life”) and instrumentalization of Facebook friends (“To what extent do you think Facebook friends are useful in order to attain your goals?”).
The results showed a link between materialism and Facebook activity. This can be partly explained by materialistic people having a stronger social comparison orientation, having more friends on Facebook, and objectifying and strongly instrumentalizing their friends.
The researchers then replicated the tests with 289 Facebook users. But this time the sample had more males and fewer students. With this test too they reached the same conclusion.
The Social Online Self-Regulation Theory developed by the researchers explains that social media is a tool for achieving important goals in life. For materialistic people, who tend to objectify their Facebook friends, acquiring new friends increases their possessions. Facebook is a tool for them to learn how far away they are from their goal of becoming wealthy.
The results also show that materialistic people have a greater need to compare themselves with others on Facebook.
The researchers, however, emphasise that these results should not put social media in a negative light – rather view them as functional tools for people to attain their goals in life even though some aspects of social media may have negative consequences.
After all people use Facebook to have fun, feel good and achieve their goals and materialistic people seem to attain their goal to compare themselves to others – which makes them feel good about themselves and increases their self-esteem.
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