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Researchers Examine Psychological Effects of FB Unfriending

By - Source: Read Write Web | B 28 comments

Hitting that "unfriend" button may cause emotional more damage than you'd imagine.

This might not come as too much of a surprise, but research suggests there can be some significant psychological trauma following social network "unfriending".

While most of us use social networks as a convenient means to stay connected with our friends and acquaintances, others may become particularly invested in their pseudo-relationships established over Facebook.

Earlier this year, researchers at Chapman university published a study in the journal, Computers in Human Behavior, examining the psychological effects of being unfriended on a social networking website.

Unsurprisingly, the researchers found, "Intense Facebook usage may mean that users are particularly invested in their relationships with their Facebook friends and thus may respond with greater rumination and negative emotion when they lose one of these friends, which compromises how they are presenting themselves and being perceived by others online."

But when exactly does being unfriended hurt the most?

“To some extent, being the individual who initiates the Facebook friendship – a clear, direct online act that is signified with a marker – places an individual in a less powerful position, as they must wait and see if their friend request is accepted, rejected or simply ignored," the researchers explained. "Individuals who are unfriended by someone they initially 'friended' may wonder why the unfriender even accepted the friend request, and such thoughts could give rise to rumination and negative emotion,”

What was surprising about the study was the fact that people experienced worse emotional pain when the reason they were unfriended was because of something that happened over Facebook, rather than something in the real world. While it may not be representative of all social network users, the study does provide some interesting insight into how invested we have become in our social network "friends".

 

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  • 27 Hide
    Marco925 , September 30, 2012 7:11 PM
    In other words, people spend too much time on facebook and not enough time actually seeing the socalled friends.
  • 23 Hide
    deksman , September 30, 2012 7:35 PM
    And THIS is what's considered 'productive' use of our (supposedly limited) resources?
    SERIOUSLY?

  • 18 Hide
    Kami3k , September 30, 2012 8:10 PM
    Pathetic.

    I have far more important things to worry about then some person I last saw 5 years ago unfriending me on facebook.
Other Comments
  • 27 Hide
    Marco925 , September 30, 2012 7:11 PM
    In other words, people spend too much time on facebook and not enough time actually seeing the socalled friends.
  • 23 Hide
    deksman , September 30, 2012 7:35 PM
    And THIS is what's considered 'productive' use of our (supposedly limited) resources?
    SERIOUSLY?

  • 15 Hide
    echondo , September 30, 2012 7:35 PM
    You've got to be kidding me.
  • 5 Hide
    A Bad Day , September 30, 2012 7:49 PM
    Um, so what am I supposed to do if I'd like to keep track of a list of my current friends and not ones that I moved at least 400 miles away from and haven't met them for years?
  • 18 Hide
    Kami3k , September 30, 2012 8:10 PM
    Pathetic.

    I have far more important things to worry about then some person I last saw 5 years ago unfriending me on facebook.
  • 9 Hide
    edogawa , September 30, 2012 8:23 PM
    I'm personally no fan of Facebook or other social networks; I enjoy a good face to face social interaction. Facebook is great for keeping in touch or important communications, but it's used for total crap and people get way to involved. I highly doubt the people with 200+ friends are real friends with them.
  • 13 Hide
    nforce4max , September 30, 2012 8:58 PM
    I am thankful to not even have facebook especially with the job market these days and nosy employers.
  • 1 Hide
    RealBeast , September 30, 2012 9:32 PM
    Lucky thing that there is no important research to do. If I was hiring a faculty member and I got a resume with Facebook unfriending studies in the list of publications, I would shred and then burn that particular resume. LOL
  • 2 Hide
    frombehind , September 30, 2012 9:41 PM
    In my job field I simply cannot have something like a Facebook. (lets just say you would need to pass SEVERAL polygraph tests to have my job). I cannot have my friends' drunken debauchery from lat weekend plastered all over my Facebook page... because that how these things work. Its my page, but its not really MY page... stuff from other people keeps popping up on it. Sorry bro, but...
    my job > your feelings, when ure being acting the fool.
  • 1 Hide
    jupiter optimus maximus , September 30, 2012 10:54 PM
    I never understood as to what was beneficial to have a social network that has people peeping every point of my life.
  • -2 Hide
    zoobiewa , September 30, 2012 11:36 PM
    It's hilarious to see people so miffed about these results. Not one comment acknowledges that this illuminates the realness of online relationships. People definitely don't like being reminded that they aren't individuals as much as they think they are but are actually intimately tied into an emotional, social web of connections. :) 
  • 0 Hide
    guardianangel42 , October 1, 2012 12:05 AM
    frombehindIn my job field I simply cannot have something like a Facebook. (lets just say you would need to pass SEVERAL polygraph tests to have my job). I cannot have my friends' drunken debauchery from lat weekend plastered all over my Facebook page... because that how these things work. Its my page, but its not really MY page... stuff from other people keeps popping up on it. Sorry bro, but...my job > your feelings, when ure being acting the fool.


    Interesting. My dad has a top secret security clearance and as part of his job, they made him get a facebook page. I suppose he's lucky he doesn't have any friends whose friends act that way (being that he's fifty) but I can defiinitely see how this would pose a problem.
  • -3 Hide
    guardianangel42 , October 1, 2012 12:11 AM
    zoobiewaIt's hilarious to see people so miffed about these results. Not one comment acknowledges that this illuminates the realness of online relationships. People definitely don't like being reminded that they aren't individuals as much as they think they are but are actually intimately tied into an emotional, social web of connections.


    I laugh at all psychological research. This study told me absolutely nothing new. Of course people who are deeply invested in their facebook friends list are going to feel particularly bad if someone defriends them. That's so obvious that I am simply amazed they conducted the study.

    I also don't trust psychological research. It's an untested, un-vetted, undefined soft science/pseudo-science that is used by corporations and the government to attempt to manipulate the population into doing certain things.

    Psychologically designed games suck, psychologically designed ads are insulting, psychological profile quizzes on job applications are unfair, and psychologists are largely some of the most unethical "scientists" in the business. Take a list of the most perverse experiments conducted in the last 100 years and you'll see an undue number of psychologists on the list of participants.

    So far as I can tell, psychology at this moment in time is the science of common sense. I pay no heed to it since my common sense is intact.
  • 1 Hide
    innocent bystander , October 1, 2012 12:51 AM
    Quote:
    In my job field I simply cannot have something like a Facebook. (lets just say you would need to pass SEVERAL polygraph tests to have my job).



    I used to have one of those. We were discouraged from Facebook use as well, but they didn't prohibit it.

    To each organization their own, I suppose.

    IB
  • 0 Hide
    nebun , October 1, 2012 2:42 AM
    this is sad...very sad...are people going to start committing suicide next?....get a life people....wait someone deleted me....i need to go cry myself to sleep....not
  • 1 Hide
    belardo , October 1, 2012 3:14 AM
    That is kind of the point, Nebun... for many people - fb is their life. They have no real friend... hell, even in the real world - most people are not your true friend.
  • 1 Hide
    audi911 , October 1, 2012 3:49 AM
    Does anyone actually realize the sheer stupidity of these studies?
    Does anyone actually understand that instead of "scientists" spending time on researching things of importance they research the "effects of defriending"
    What is going on with the world today. Have people become this stupid that they have to have studies that have 0 relevance in a normal person's life?

    It's sad to see that
    A) Today's youth has a collective IQ of a box of raisins.
    B) The people in are part of this box of raisins are the same people who are leading the future of the world.

    It's very alarming to see how utterly retarded and idiotic the newer generations are. To the point where scientists have nothing to do but create "studies" about useless things.

    belardoThat is kind of the point, Nebun... for many people - fb is their life. They have no real friend... hell, even in the real world - most people are not your true friend.


    ^^^This is the case and point^^^

    When someone has to resort to having FB as their "life" maybe they need to reconsider the reasons they have no friends. Virtual or real life.

    That is sad


  • 0 Hide
    bak0n , October 1, 2012 4:00 AM
    I feel no sympathy for the people I invited purely for gaming, then removed them after I got bored of those games and game requests!
  • 0 Hide
    audi911 , October 1, 2012 4:04 AM
    I think anyone who takes virtual world friends needs to seriously reevaluate their social stability.

    I also think the idiots who make these kinds of tests should evaluate their professions.

    And I think the people who are dumb enough to fund these kinds of experiments should evaluate how they manage their money.

    It's seriously a sad state of affairs.
  • 0 Hide
    cats_Paw , October 1, 2012 9:41 AM
    Fun fact: I dont use FB almost at all, i have al most no real life friends, i dont spend much time with family and i only have some friends in online gaming world. So yes, when my EX left me it crushed me real hard. So now i spend time with everyone, dont use facebook, spend time with family and am friendly to everyone.

    And i still miss my EX... Psycology is stupid :D .
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