Place: 4274 Chamberlin (refreshments will be served)
Speaker: Catalina Toma, UW Department of Communication Arts
Abstract: Facebook invites users to compose detailed personal profiles, where they describe their activities, interests, and values; express daily thoughts and musings; and articulate "friendships" with other users in the system. Research shows that users engage in copious yet careful self-disclosure in their own profiles, and that they frequently provide positive feedback ("likes," "comments") to friends' postings. What are the psychological implications of constructing and engaging with this socially connected, online version of self? I will first discuss the emotional well-being effects of engaging with one's own profile. In a suite of studies, we found that users experience self-affirmation, increased positive affect, and increased self-esteem after examining their own profiles. They also gravitated towards these profiles when feeling badly about themselves, in an effort to repair feelings of self-worth. I will then discuss the effects of profile self-presentation on users' romantic relationships. Data show that users who publicly declare their involvement with a romantic partner (by listing themselves as "in a relationship," posting couple photographs, etc.) experience increased commitment towards that partner and are less likely to break up after 6 months. I will end by discussing future research avenues on the psychological effects of Facebook self-presentation.