The Situation of Facebook Jealousy
Posted by The Situationist Staff on August 15, 2009
Marc Beja of the Chronicles of Higher Education has an interesting piece on jealousy driving people to spend inordinate amounts of time on Facebook. We excerpt this piece below.
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Having relationship troubles? Is your significant other interrogating you, asking about your communication with people you used to date, or even with acquaintances you speak with infrequently?
Blame Facebook, say three researchers at the University of Guelph, in Ontario.
The reason? Jealousy. And not just any jealousy—”Facebook-specific jealousy,” say two Ph.D. candidates in psychology and their advisor. They add that such jealousy may increase the amount of time that you—or your significant other—spend on the social networking site.
The researchers—Amy Muise and Emily Christofides, both Ph.D. candidates, and Serge Desmarais, an associate professor of applied social psychology—wondered whether spying on their significant others would make people question the partners’ honesty and fidelity, and if time spent on the Web site would increase as a result. More than 300 undergraduate students completed an anonymous online survey about their Facebook habits. Of those, a little more than half said they were seriously dating one person.
The study relied on 27 items that were meant to assess Facebook-related jealousy, and a scale was created for each item. Results of the survey were published in the August edition of the journal CyberPsychology & Behavior in an article titled “More Information than You Even Wanted: Does Facebook Bring Out the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy?”
The undergraduates were asked questions like “How likely are you to become jealous after your partner has added an unknown member of the opposite sex?” and “How likely are you to monitor your partner’s activities on Facebook?” The answer to both of those questions was “very likely” for a substantial number of participants. The respondents said they spent an average of nearly 40 minutes on the Web site each day, with women spending more time than men.
More than three-quarters of the participants said they knew their partners had added as “friends” people with whom they had previously had flings. And more than 92 percent said their partners were at least somewhat likely to have “friends” they did not themselves know.
Rising jealousy can be attributed to the social-networking site, which makes speaking with not-so-close friends easier than before, the researchers say. Many people add as friends people they have met in passing, rather than adding only acquaintances they see regularly. Men in the study reported having 100 more friends, on average, than women did. Women outscored men on the jealousy scale, averaging a score of 3.29 out of 7, while men scored 2.81. Three-quarters of those who completed the survey were women.
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