Bad news, guys: All those affirming Facebook likes you’ve been soliciting with pretty pictures and smart links might actually be turning you (for a few minutes at least) into an entitled monster with zero self-control.
Wired reports that researchers Keith Wilcox and Andrew Stephen (both of them b-school professors, at Columbia and the University of Pittsburgh respectively) were exploring what happens when you use Facebook to keep in contact specifically with close friends. No big surprise there: It tends to boost your self-esteem to receive a flood of likes from your besties.
But it’s what happened next that resulted in a paper published in the Journal of Consumer Research with the rather ominous title, “Are Close Friends the Enemy? Online Social Networks, Self-Esteem, and Self- Control.” Typically, increased self-esteem translates into increased self control. Not so when Facebook enters the equation.
For one experiment in the study, Wilcox and Stephen asked 84 study participants to either browse Facebook or read CNN.com for five minutes. Both groups then had to choose between a healthy granola bar or not-so-healthy chocolate chip cookie. The Facebook group was much more likely to go for the cookie, while the CNN group picked the granola bar.
Mr. Wilcox theorizes that, “It seems the momentary increase in self control that the participants got from browsing Facebook for a few minutes creates a sense of entitlement to do what they want and, therefore, lower self control.”
The results probably aren’t quite enough to inspire fitness freaks to bail on Facebook, but at least this goes a long way toward explaining those people who post long, oversharey notes about how they “don’t have time for drama.”