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Monday, January 14, 2013

Is your social network making you fat? Broke? Stupid? Maybe!

Posted By on Mon, Jan 14, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Social network users may have a reason to "dislike" their favorite sites: researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia Business School say that websites like Facebook boost a user's self-esteem, but could also lead to reduced self control, especially when it comes to eating after browsing.

In a paper entitled "Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self-Control" that published today in the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers Keith Wilcox and Andrew T. Stephen said that users who have boosted self-esteem from comments or "likes" on their online activity displayed less self-control after browsing their social networks. Researchers conducted five studies.

Some highlights:

— In one study, participants checked either Facebook or CNN.com then chose between eating a granola bar or chocolate-chip cookie. Those who browsed Facebook were more likely to go for the cookie.
— In another study, participants were given word puzzles to solve after using Facebook or reading TMZ, a celebrity news site. Facebook users were more likely to give up on the word puzzles.
— In one study, participants took surveys about how close they are to friends on Facebook. Participants with"weak ties" to the network did not experience an increase in self-esteem, but those with "strong ties" had a boosted self-esteem.
— An online field study examined the relationships between social network use and offline behaviors. “The results suggest that greater social network use is associated with a higher body-mass index, increased binge eating, a lower credit score and higher levels of credit-card debt for individuals with strong ties to their social network,” the researchers wrote in a press release.

For more information on the paper or its various findings, visit here.

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