Find yourself drawn to Facebook? There is a reason why you crave the social media site and according to researchers in the US and Netherlands, it’s because it makes us feel good.
Researchers at Michigan State University in the US, and the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and the Radboud University Nijmegen in the Netherlands, add further analysis to the two studies published earlier this year with regular and less-frequent Facebook users.
The first study involved participants being shown to a Facebook-related cue (such as the logo or a screenshot of the timeline) or a control picture, followed by a random Chinese symbol.
The test subjects were asked whether they found the symbol pleasant or unpleasant.
When exposed to a Facebook-related image, regular users of the social media site reacted more positively to the Chinese image compared with the less frequent ones.
The researchers put this down to Facebook exposure being a “learned response”. An example of learned response is how children learn that misbehaviour earns them attention.
According to Michigan State University’s Allison Eden, these responses are hard to break.
“People are learning this reward feeling when they get to Facebook,” she said.
“What we show with this study is that even with something as simple as the Facebook logo, seeing the Facebook wall of a friend or seeing anything associated with Facebook, is enough to bring that positive association back.”
In the second study, the test subjects were asked to measure their craving for Facebook through a series of questions.
The researchers found that those lured by the logo and other Facebook-related triggers and wanted to regulate their use struggled with feelings of guilt.
“If they try to regulate Facebook usage and fail, they feel badly, so they turn to Facebook and feel badly again,” the researchers said in a statement. “It’s a cycle of self-regulatory failure.”
However, the researchers warn the guilt can be damaging, adding that the solution could be to remove some of the cues, like, for example, turning off notifications or moving the Facebook logo from from the mobile phone’s home screen so it’s not immediately visible when you unlock your phone.
“Media, including social media, is one of the most commonly failed goals to regulate,” Eden said. “People try to regulate themselves and they really have difficulty with it.”
The study is published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking.