Study links number of Facebook friends to stress levels

Written by Paul Goodhead

February 16, 2011 // 11:14 a.m.

Tags: #facebook #friends #social-media #social-networking #stress #twitter #website

Psychologists from Edinburgh Napier University today released the results of a study, revealing that people with more Facebook friends are more likely to feel stressed or anxious about using the website.

In fact, the study concluded that, for a significant number of Facebook users, the negative effects of the website even outweigh the positive benefits of staying in touch with friends and family.

The lead researcher for the study - Dr Kathy Charles - also points out that the study threw up a number of paradoxes, such as the fact that there is ‘great pressure to be on Facebook but for most, only very modest or tenuous rewards.

The study also likens Facebook to gambling, saying that ‘like gambling, Facebook keeps users in a neurotic limbo, not knowing whether they should hang on in there just in case they miss out on something good.’ This, says the report, leaves users of the site feeling ‘anxious about withdrawing from the site for fear of missing important social information or offending contacts’.

Interestingly, the study also found that users found the pressure to be inventive and entertaining with their status updates and comments stressful.

Other interesting numbers pulled out of the study are that:
  • 12 per cent of respondents said that Facebook made them feel anxious
  • 63 per cent delayed replying to friend requests
  • 32 per cent said rejecting friend requests led to feelings of guilt and discomfort
  • 10 per cent admitted disliking receiving friend requests
Does any of this anxiety and stress regarding Facebook sounds familiar to you? Do you fuss over crafting the perfect status or comment for hours? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

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