Ever since Facebook became the social-media juggernaut it is today, social scientists have been licking their chops at the prospect of using it to better understand human psychology. It’s a big, weird, messy experiment in online (and online-versus-offline) behavior that offers up troves of data for researchers. Over at the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest, Christian Jarrett has done a nice roundup pulling together a bunch of the studies that have been conducted so far.
Maybe the most telling thing about his post is how many semi-contradictory studies he’s turned up. It’s really hard to make sweeping generalizations about Facebook, even when it comes to seemingly basic questions like whether introverts or extroverts are more likely to use it. Still, there are lots of interesting studies here. My favorite was probably one from 2008, which showed that, as Jarrett puts it, “having an overabundance of friends leads to negative perceptions of your profile.”
I totally judge people when they have “too many” friends on Facebook, even people whom I otherwise like a lot. I don’t know why, exactly. Maybe Facebook has turned me into a bit of a jerk — or maybe it’s revealing aspects of preexisting jerkiness that I’d hidden from myself. We need more research!