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January 22, 2013

Facebook makes users envious, dissatisfied: study

The major online and offline envy provokers in Germany have been related to Travel and Leisure posts on the site.

By CBR Staff Writer

According to a new German study of over 600 people, using Facebook could make its users feel envious of their successful friends.

This result may lead to frustration and dissatisfaction.

The joint research was conducted by Prof. Dr. Peter Buxmann from the Department of Information Systems of the TU Darmstadt and Dr. Hanna Krasnova from the Institute of Information Systems of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

The research, "Envy on Facebook: A Hidden Threat to Users’ Life Satisfaction" revealed that over one-third of surveyed Facebook users reported negative feelings,including frustration, when using the site. Many said this was a cause of feeling envious towards their Facebook friends.

Hanna Krasnova said that although respondents were reluctant to admit feeling envious while on Facebook, they often presumed that envy can be the cause behind the frustration of ‘others’ on this platform — a clear indication that envy is an increasing phenomenon in the Facebook context.

"Indeed, access to copious positive news and the profiles of seemingly successful ‘friends’ fosters social comparison that can readily provoke envy," Krasnova said.

Many users became envious from travel and leisure posts on the site by their Facebook friends.

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"By and large, online social networks allow users unprecedented access to information on relevant others — insights that would be much more difficult to obtain offline," said Dr. Thomas Widjaja.

"This is a result of numerous vacation photos posted on Facebook, which are particularly popular among German users," he added.

The survey also allowed researchers to establish a negative connection between the envy that comes up while on Facebook and users’ general life satisfaction.

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