Users of Facebook and other social networks should be aware that allowing their self-esteem, boosted by ‘likes’ or positive comments from close friends, to influence their behaviour could reduce their self-control.
The research, carried out by academics at Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh, reveals that socializing online can have a positive effect on self-esteem and well-being.
While on the face of it this might sound like a good thing, the study concludes that feeling good about oneself can actually have a detrimental impact on behaviour by momentarily lowering one’s ability to say no.
This naturally leads to over-indulgence and is associated with individuals having higher body-mass indexes and higher levels of credit-card debt, according to the paper.
“To our knowledge, this is the first research to show that using online social networks can affect self-control,” said co-author Andrew T. Stephen of the University of Pittsburgh. “We have demonstrated that using today’s most popular social network, Facebook, may have a detrimental affect on people’s self-control.”
The paper, published online in November, is scheduled for publication in the June 2013 print edition of the Journal of Consumer Research.