Frequently updating your Facebook status can help you feel less lonely, according to a new study.
students who posted more status updates on the social networking site
than they normally did felt less lonely over the course of a week, even
if no one "Liked" or commented on their posts, researchers found.
got the idea to conduct this study during a coffee-break sharing random
stories about what friends had posted on Facebook," psychology
researcher Fenne Deters, of the Universitat Berlin, told LiveScience.
why posting status updates is so popular, we thought that it would be
thrilling to study this new form of communication empirically," Deters
Deters and her colleague recruited about 100 undergraduates (all Facebook users) at the University of Arizona.
participants filled out initial surveys to measure their levels of
loneliness, happiness and depression, and they gave the researchers
access to their Facebook profiles by friending a dummy user created for
The students were sent an analysis of their
average weekly status updates (online wall-memos) and some of the
participants were then told to post more statuses than usual over the
next seven days.
During that week, all completed a short online
questionnaire at the end of each day about their mood and level of
Compared with the group of students who didn't
adjust their social media habits, those who went on a status-writing
blitz felt less lonely over the week, the team found.
happiness and depression levels went unchanged, suggesting that the
effect is specific to experienced loneliness," the researchers wrote.
drop in loneliness was linked to an increase in feeling more socially
connected, which the researchers believe is the cause behind the
positive effects of status updating.
Interestingly, the team found
that loneliness levels did not depend on whether the students' status
updates garnered any comments or "Likes" from Facebook friends.
might assume that a lack of response could be considered a form of
rejection, but the act of writing a status update itself might help
people feel more connected, the researchers said.
When crafting a
clever status, Facebook users have a target audience in mind. Simply
thinking about their friends (or at least their Facebook friends) can
have a "social snacking" effect.
The study was published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science.