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"They Are Happier And Having Better Lives Than I Am": The Impact Of Using Facebook On Perceptions Of Others' Lives

Hui-Tzu Grace Chou, Nicholas Edge
Published 2012 · Psychology, Medicine, Computer Science

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Facebook, as one of the most popular social networking sites among college students, provides a platform for people to manage others' impressions of them. People tend to present themselves in a favorable way on their Facebook profile. This research examines the impact of using Facebook on people's perceptions of others' lives. It is argued that those with deeper involvement with Facebook will have different perceptions of others than those less involved due to two reasons. First, Facebook users tend to base judgment on examples easily recalled (the availability heuristic). Second, Facebook users tend to attribute the positive content presented on Facebook to others' personality, rather than situational factors (correspondence bias), especially for those they do not know personally. Questionnaires, including items measuring years of using Facebook, time spent on Facebook each week, number of people listed as their Facebook "friends," and perceptions about others' lives, were completed by 425 undergraduate students taking classes across various academic disciplines at a state university in Utah. Surveys were collected during regular class period, except for two online classes where surveys were submitted online. The multivariate analysis indicated that those who have used Facebook longer agreed more that others were happier, and agreed less that life is fair, and those spending more time on Facebook each week agreed more that others were happier and had better lives. Furthermore, those that included more people whom they did not personally know as their Facebook "friends" agreed more that others had better lives.
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