Envy: A Key Motivator Behind Facebook Posts

By comparison and the quest for self-importance, facebook makes users to feel their lives are unfulfilling, thus react by creating posts that portray their best selves; a new study by Sauder School of Business’ Izak Benbasat, distinguished Professor of Information Systems.

Benbasat and his co-researchers note that envy remains the major stimulating factor behind Facebook posts, contributing to a decrease in mental well-being among users. Social networks and their functionality have been encouraging envy-inducing behavior.

Benbasat added that, the unrealistic portrayal of life is not motivated by the desire to make others jealous, but rather a need to compete and keep up appearances. For an instance, travel photos from friends push others to post their most perfect pictures.

“Social media participation has been linked to depression, anxiety and narcissistic behaviour, but the reasons haven’t been well-explained. We found envy to be the missing link,” said Benbasat.

The researchers did surveyed 1,193 Facebook users at a German university. Students were asked a series of questions about their Facebook habits and the replies gotten from them were cross-referenced with the feelings they reported when using the platform.

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“Sharing pictures and stories about the highlights of your life – that’s so much of what Facebook is for, so you can’t take that away,” he said. “But I think it’s important for people to know what impact it can have on their well-being.”

Why Following Friends Can Hurt You: Empirical Investigation of the Effects of Envy on Social Networking Sites: Co-authored by Hanna Krasnova, Thomas Widjaja, Peter Buxmann and Helena Wenninger, and Izak Benbasat.

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