Does Posting Facebook Status Updates Increase or Decrease Loneliness? An Online Social Networking Experiment

Social Psychological and Personality Science
Fenne Große Deters, Matthias R Mehl


Online social networking is a pervasive but empirically understudied phenomenon. Strong public opinions on its consequences exist but are backed up by little empirical evidence and almost no causally-conclusive, experimental research. The current study tested the psychological effects of posting status updates on Facebook using an experimental design. For one week, participants in the experimental condition were asked to post more than they usually do, whereas participants in the control condition received no instructions. Participants added a lab "Research Profile" as a Facebook friend allowing for the objective documentation of protocol compliance, participants' status updates, and friends' responses. Results revealed (1) that the experimentally-induced increase in status updating activity reduced loneliness, (2) that the decrease in loneliness was due to participants feeling more connected to their friends on a daily basis and (3) that the effect of posting on loneliness was independent of direct social feedback (i.e. responses) by friends.


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Experimental Design
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