So you’re in a bad mood, and you mope your way over to Facebook. Whose profile are you going to creep on today: your beautiful friend who just got a new job? Or your pitiable friend who frequently posts vague, complain-y posts containing the acronym FML? Most likely you’ll spend more time on the relatively pathetic friend’s page, says a new study from the Ohio State University, recently published in Computers in Human Behavior.
Normally, the authors say, we use social media to lurk on the profiles of the beautiful, successful people in our friend networks, but a bad mood may drive us to seek out the opposite. Here’s a brief look at how they came to this conclusion, according to the press release:
The study involved 168 college students. Researchers first put participants in a good or bad mood by having them take a test on facial emotion recognition. Regardless of their answers, the students were randomly told their performance was “terrible” (to put them in a bad mood) or “excellent” (to put them in a good mood).
After the test, the participants were asked to review something called SocialLink, which, they were told, was a new Facebook-eqsue site. This thing, however, was kind of a brutally honest form of Facebook, on which each fake profile was ranked from zero to five in terms of career success and attractiveness. The researchers tracked how much time the participants spent on each profile; those who’d been manipulated into a bad mood spent more time browsing the pages of the least successful and least attractive people.
The researchers didn’t ask how people felt after viewing the profiles, so who knows whether this strategy actually does help you cheer yourself out of a funk. But if nothing else, it’s a small reminder that, hey, things could be worse. At least you’re not that guy.