Facebook users with optimistic bias — a tendency to view future events in a positive light, boosting self-esteem — often believe they are less likely to experience cyberbullying, depression and negative social impacts from using the social networking site. However, new research indicates that bias may actually leave them more susceptible to negative psychological effects.
Sunny Jung Kim, PhD, a postdoctoral fellow at the Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center, and colleagues surveyed 237 Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 37. They were asked to evaluate their own and others’ likelihood of experiencing positive and negative outcomes on Facebook and their use of the site. They were also queried on their support of Internet regulations to protect users from social criticism.
While Facebook users tended to support regulations to prevent social ostracizing, they did not strongly agree the regulations should protect against psychologically negative effects, such as depression and loneliness, the researchers reported in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Also, Facebook users who have a negative opinion of the site or don’t use it often tend to think other people are more likely to have positive experiences on the site.
“A growing line of research indicates that negative events such as Facebook cyberbullying can result in detrimental consequences, including depression and substance use problems,” Kim said in a statement. “Without adequate protections, the damage of these critical events can be severe. This is especially the case for those in a vulnerable health condition, in which this optimistic bias for risk events can leave them unprepared without adequate health protective behaviors.”
However, the researchers added that Facebook can also serve as a source of emotional support and a platform to share messages to prevent negative psychological consequences of Facebook use.
Facebook users with so-called optimistic bias think they’re less likely than other users to experience cyberbullying, depression and other negative social and psychological effects from using the site, a Dartmouth-Cornell study finds.
The study suggests that optimistic bias, or an intrinsic tendency to imagine future events in a favorable light that enhances positive self-regard — in other words, wishful thinking — leaves those Facebook users vulnerable to the negative realities of social media.
The participants were asked to assess their own and other people’s likelihood of experiencing positive and negative outcomes on Facebook. They also were asked to rate their likelihood of supporting Internet regulations, their personal Facebook involvement and their attitudes toward Facebook use.