TMI: Why Some Facebook Friends Overshare

Released: 23-Jun-2014 11:40 AM EDT
Source Newsroom: Dick Jones Communications
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Citations Computers in Human Behavior

Newswise — Ever wonder why some Facebook friends post little about themselves, while others seem to share their innermost desires and feelings?

It may be due to the expression of the “true self,” which contains qualities you possess but don’t normally feel comfortable sharing with other people. And some of us feel more comfortable expressing our true self to hundreds of Facebook acquaintances than to a few face-to-face, in-the-flesh friends, according to research by Albright College assistant professor of psychology Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D.

The findings are included in Seidman’s article “Expressing the ‘True Self’ on Facebook,” recently published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.

Seidman found that people who are more comfortable expressing their true self online will post on Facebook more often and will post more personally revealing information and emotional content. These people, said Seidman, are more likely to be seeking attention, acceptance and validation from others.

Unfortunately, they’re not getting it.

“They are posting more information and more emotionally revealing information, but are not getting any more feedback than those who are less expressive,” said Seidman.

For the study, participants were asked to take a true self measure and complete a survey about their Facebook use. Scores on the true self measure were positively associated with greater use of Facebook and using the social media platform for self-motivated purposes, namely to gain attention and acceptance from others, but not for the altruistic motives of connecting with or showing care for others.

“People are doing it, in part, because they feel like they can express things about themselves that they can’t do in another context,” said Seidman, who noted that while Facebook is not anonymous, people tend to feel more removed from their audience and thus more comfortable disclosing personal information.

“People feel the urge to post and they may not always think through the impact,” she said. “But when you’re face-to-face, it is more anxiety provoking.”


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