Research Award recipients Professors Cong Li and Nick Carcioppolo will soon begin work on their Center for Communication, Culture and Change project “Do Our Friends Make Us Feel Worse? Examining Social Comparison Effects on Facebook,” which will study the influence of social comparison on Facebook users’ emotions and life satisfaction through an experiment using perceived psychological closeness and perceived message relevance. “Facebook users consume a large amount of information provided by their friends every day,” said Professor Li. “The most interesting part of this project is to demonstrate how such information consumption will affect people’s emotions and feelings in a subconscious way, and how these emotions and feelings may lead to long-term happiness/unhappiness.”
Results of this study are expected to show that negative influence of social comparison on Facebook will be more salient for comparing with “distant friends” on highly self-relevant dimensions. According to Professor Carcioppolo, “We often think of a social network as something that can have beneficial effects on both mental and physical health outcomes. The research exploring online social networks suggests that this may not always be the case. It will be interesting to explore the ways in which Facebook use can elicit both positive and negative affective outcomes.” The team hopes to use this pilot study to apply for funding from the Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences (SBE) division of the National Science Foundation (NSF).