Maintaining close ties with your good friends on Facebook increases your self esteem -- but also your waistline.
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According to a study by researchers at Columbia Business School and University of Pittsburgh, that will be published in the Journal of Consumer Research in June 2013, keeping watch of your good friends' activities on social media correlates to a higher body-mass index and higher levels of credit card debt. These close connections increase your self-esteem, thereby allowing you to let your guard down and temporarily lose self control.
"We found this in a variety of settings, ranging from healthy versus unhealthy food choices, to how long people persisted at a challenging task," Andrew T. Stephen, an assistant professor and Katz Fellow at the University of Pittsburgh, and an author of this study, tells Mashable. "We also found broader evidence of this in two really important contexts where self control matters a lot: health and personal finances."
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Stephen adds, "Note that we found these relationships after controlling for a number of demographic and socio-economic factors that would also affect these things."
The flip side of this problem is that Facebook shows to increase self-esteem for users who feel close to their "friends." But it doesn't take long for negative consequences to occur.
"What was really surprising to us was that in our studies these effects were found after just five minutes of browsing Facebook," he said. "It seems that people don't need to spend a lot of time to be psychologically affected."
This research was conducted through five different studies.
Stephen said this news doesn't mean you need to cut out Facebook from your life. Simply be aware of these potentially negative consequences and use your will power to adjust your actions after you visit your Facebook page.
"Being informed about these kinds of consequences, as surprising as they may be, can help us prevent ourselves from suffering them," he said.
He also says this information is something policy makers should read -- not to implement any kind of oversight or regulation -- but to broaden the general knowledge of how social media impacts its users.
Do you eat more or spend more after you check out your Facebook page? Tell us in the comments.
This story originally published on Mashable here.
- University of Pittsburgh
- Columbia Business School