Facebook has changed the way we communicate with the world and how we perceive of the world and of ourselves. The journal Media Psychology has reported on the May 2013 edition, Feeling Better But Doing Worse: Effects of Facebook Self-Presentation on Implicit Self-Esteem and Cognitive Task Performance. This study implemented a self-affirmation theory to draw predictions about the effect of Facebook profile self-presentation on a users’ state of self-esteem and their performance in a cognitive task. In a news release on May 31, 2013, Jenny Price reported for the University of Wisconsin Madison, Facebook profiles raise users’ self-esteem and affect behavior.
A Facebook profile offers the opportunity to create an ideal version of the self, with photos and posts specially chosen for the eyes of family, friends and acquaintances. This new study has shown that this version of the self can provide beneficial psychological
effects and can also influence behavior. The Implicit Association Test to measure Facebook users’ self-esteem after they spent time looking at their profiles, was used. Catalina Toma, a UW-Madison assistant professor of communication arts, found that
after participants spent just five minutes examining their own Facebook profiles, they experienced a significant boost in their self-esteem.
The test which was used measures how quickly participants associate positive or negative adjectives with words such as me, my, I and myself. Toma said, “If you have high self- esteem, then you can very quickly associate words related to yourself with positive evaluations but have a difficult time associating words related to yourself with negative evaluations. But if you have low self-esteem, the opposite is true.”
Toma also found that the self-esteem boost which came from looking at their profiles ultimately diminished participants’ performance in the follow-up task by decreasing their motivation to perform well. Toma has said, “Performing well in a task can boost feelings of self-worth. However, if you already feel good about yourself because you looked at your Facebook profile, there is no psychological need to increase your self-worth by doing well in a laboratory task.”
It is important to note that Toma has also said, “This study shows that exposure to your own Facebook profile reduces motivation to perform well in a simple, hypothetical task. It does not show that Facebook use negatively affects college students’ grades, for example. Future work is necessary to investigate the psychological effects of other Facebook activities, such as examining others’ profiles or reading the newsfeed.” Nevertheless, this research presents us with an interesting way to use your own Facebook profile to boost your self-esteem.