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What Your Facebook Habits Reveal About You

Lifestyle Desk |
Update: 2013-08-28 05:37:38
What Your Facebook Habits Reveal About You

Did you know that scientists can tell how smart you are, simply by analyzing your Facebook “likes?” What’s more, your Facebook habits may also offer surprising insights into everything from hidden health risks to your mood, IQ, self-esteem, and even how popular you are in the real world.

An explosion of new studies are probing the effects of Facebook on its 1.1 billion users around the world, with fascinating, controversial and sometimes bizarre discoveries. For example, you probably have a high IQ if you like thunderstorms, curly fries, or The Colbert Report on Facebook, according to a new study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

There’s also fiery scientific debate about whether the popular social media site is making us happier or more depressed. One recent study hailed intense Facebook usage as a boon to psychological wellbeing, while even newer research drew the opposite conclusion, prompting Keith Abelow, MD of Fox News to attack Facebook as “toxic” and a “significant public health threat.”

Facebook may lift self-esteem, but lower math skills and motivation

In a University of Wisconsin-Madison study, 159 students either spent five minutes scrolling through their own Facebook profile or that of a stranger. The students were asked to rapidly associate a list of positive and negative words with themselves (as a measure of self-esteem) and were then given a subtraction task (counting down by sevens from a large number as quickly and accurately as possible). Those who had viewed their own Facebook profile had significant boost in self-esteem, but performed the math task 15 percent more slowly. The researchers theorize that the ego boost gained from viewing your Facebook profile diminishes motivation to do your best on real-world mental challenges.

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Facebook “likes” reveal if people in your city are fat or fit

Boston Children’s Hospital researchers used Facebook interests—including “likes” and timeline posts—to track obesity trends nationally and in New York City. The study found that obesity rates were 12 percent lower in areas where the highest percentage of Facebook users had exercise-related interests, versus the lowest. Not surprisingly, people who “like” TV shows on Facebook are more likely to be overweight than those with fitness-related “likes.”
Posting too many “selfies” may alienate real-world friends

Facebook self-portraits are the most disliked form of social media sharing, according to a new British study. “This is because people, other than very close friends and relatives, don`t seem to relate well to those who constantly share photos of themselves,” lead study author Dr. David Houghton, of Birmingham Business School in the UK, told the Daily Mail. The study also found that oversharing photos of friends can also damage real-life relationships, while posting photos of family is viewed positively.
Men’s Facebook recommendations have more clout

To find out which Facebook users have the greatest influence, NYU researchers studied how likely people were to install a film-rating app recommended by a Facebook buddy. The study found that overall, men are 49 percent more influential than women. However, women are 12 percent less susceptible to influence than men, and women have greater influence over men than over other women. Single people have 113 percent more peer influence than those in a relationship, and 128 percent more than those whose status is listed as “it’s complicated,” New Scientist reports. The study included 7,730 users, with messages recommending the app being sent to a random sample of their online friends.
Friending your boss—or parents—on Facebook can be stressful

A study by University of Edinburgh Business School researchers reports that the more social circles people are linked to, the more potential there is to offend an online “friend,” particularly through posts involving vulgar language, drinking, smoking, or reckless behavior. Connecting with employers or parents was linked to the greatest rise in anxiety. The paper also reported that 55 percent of parents friend their kids and that more than half of employers have decided not to hire someone after visiting the applicant’s Facebook page.
Inconclusive Research: Facebook May Make You Happy or Gloomy

A South African study of 800 students found that intense Facebook usage raised “social capital,” which is linked to better mental and physical health and economic wellbeing. The researchers also report that friendships on the social media site may be particularly beneficial to people struggling with low self-esteem and low life satisfaction. However, an even newer University of Michigan study, of 82 American students, found that the more often participants visited Facebook, the worse they felt. The researchers report that whether going online affects life satisfaction depends on whom you’re interacting with.

BDST: 1524 HRS, Aug-28, 2013

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