Are Lovey-Dovey Facebook Couples All They Seem?

Released: 11-Aug-2014 4:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Dick Jones Communications
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Citations Society for Personality and Social Psychology Research conference

Newswise — Posting adorable couple photos and saccharine-sweet shout-outs to your significant other on Facebook is one thing.

But new research from Albright College has revealed that some lovebirds are using the popular social media platform for more nefarious purposes, including bragging about their romantic relationship and keeping tabs on their partner’s activities.

Albright assistant professor of psychology Gwendolyn Seidman, Ph.D., working with now Albright alumna Amanda Havens, surveyed Facebook users in romantic relationships and found that those satisfied with their relationship are more likely to use Facebook to post couple photos and details of their relationship, as well as affectionate comments on their partner’s wall.

Individuals high in Relationship Contingent Self-Esteem (RCSE) – an unhealthy form of self-esteem that depends on how well your relationship is going – are also more likely to post affectionate content. But these individuals also felt the need to brag about their relationship to others and even monitor their boyfriend or girlfriend’s Facebook activities. And for those high in RCSE, having something go wrong in the relationship is an even bigger blow to their self-esteem than it would be for someone low in RCSE, said Seidman.

“These results suggest that those high in RCSE feel a need to show others, their partners and perhaps themselves that their relationship is ‘OK’ and, thus, they are OK,” said Seidman.

For this study, participants were asked to complete a survey about their Facebook behaviors and motivations. Researchers also measured the Big Five personality traits, which include openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism. The findings were presented at the Society for Personality and Social Psychology conference in Austin, Texas, and the Association for Psychological Science conference in San Francisco, Calif., earlier this year.

According to the researchers, individuals high in neuroticism are also more likely to use Facebook to monitor their partner and show off their relationship. “This is what we expected, given that neurotic individuals are generally more jealous in their romantic relationships,” said Seidman, who suggests these individuals may use Facebook as a way to lessen their fears of rejection and anxiety within the relationship.

What researchers didn’t expect is that extraverts – of whom past research has shown generally have more Facebook friends and are more active users – are less likely to monitor their partners or make affectionate posts. Introverts, however, are more likely to post affectionate content and are more likely to snoop on their significant other.


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