MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: We started reading the classic book by Erich Fromm „To have or to be“ out of personal interest. I was very much interested in studying social media, so we wondered how materialists would use facebook. After all Facebook seemed to be a perfect tool for people who love social comparisons.
Furthermore, Facebook is for free – materialists love tools that do not cost money!
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings?
Response: We found in two studies that people with high materialistic concerns (e.g., acquiring and increasing possession as central life goal) seem to use Facebook more frequently and intensely.
They use Facebook more frequently, because they tend to objectify and instrumentalize their Facebook friends. Thus, materialists see and treat their Facebook friends as “digital” objects. For this, they have significantly more friends than people with low materialistic concerns. On that way, materialists acquire Facebook friends to increase their possession.
But the most important finding regarding materialists on Facebook was that they have a higher need to compare themselves with important others and Facebook provides a perfect platform for social comparisons with millions of profiles and information about people.
Altogether, we found that people with specific personality traits (in our study: materialism) use Facebook as a means to attain self-regulatory goals (e.g., for a materialist satisfaction of their need for acquiring possession). Thus, we derived a new theory: The Social Online Self-Regulation Theory.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: We offer a brand new model on social media use, the SOS-T theory. Basically we say that social media are nothing but a tool for attaining important goals in life. Thus we escape any black-and-white evaluation of good or bad social media- we simply assume that people use them in order to feel good, to have fun and to attain their goals.
For materialists Facebook is a tool to learn how far away they are from their goal to become wealthy. Thus, we hope that people now take a more neutral perspective on social media.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: We offer a brand new theory (i.e., the social online self-regulation theory; SOS-T) on social media use, saying that people use Facebook in order to self-regulate- in other words- they use Facebook in order to attain their goals and to feel good.
We basically say that social media are not that different from other activities in life- they are functional tools for people who want to attain goals in life. Some might have negative consequences for them or society. We found for example that materialists instrumentalize their friends. On the other hand materialists attain their goal to compare themselves to others. It seems to us that Facebook is like a knife. It can be used for preparing yummy food or it can be used for hurting a person. In a way, our model provides a more neutral perspective on social media.
Altogether, our basic recommendation would be a neutral perspective on social media as a means for reaching specific goals.
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20 Nov 2017- Volume 3, Issue 11Psychology, Information Science
Materialists on Facebook: the self-regulatory role of social comparisons and the objectification of Facebook friends
Phillip Ozimek, Fiona Baer , Jens Förster
Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.