It’s always fun to do research, but it’s even more fun when people find what you do interesting. We have had a lot of attention for the Facebook work that our group of stalwart student researchers have done over the last year and a half or so. The most recent recognition comes from HealthDay’s Alan Mozes, with whom I enjoyed a nice conversation this week about our work. Alan asked me to comment on an article in the 2/17 online version of Psychological Science by UT Austin’s Samuel Gosling and his colleagues. The researchers found that people’s Facebook profiles are actually quite accurate.
These results, which Gosling said were surprising to their group, were actually quite consistent with our own, which have focused on the relationships between feelings of loneliness and Facebook use by college students. We have found that the image of people constructing some alter ego online that is vastly different from who they really are just hasn’t worked for social networking sites like Facebook. Our participants who are very lonely are not compensating for that by spending more time online or seeking to amass huge networks of friends. Facebook seems to be WYSIWYG, literally.
I suppose the down side of all this attention is that we have to stop tweaking our data (we’ve improved our questionnaires from last year’s APS presentation and are collecting more data and running more analyses) long enough to finalize our papers for publication. Sometimes it’s hard to fit that in with midterms and grad school apps, but I want the students to really be involved with all steps of the project. Stay tuned!