A Psychological Perspective Part III

Facebook has been largely acknowledge as the biggest social networking site online. It’s hard to dispute the claims. But the questions is…why? Why is it the biggest, More specifically, why do people use it?

Hello everyone, and welcome to Part III, in which we conclude what we’ve learned from the past two lengthy posts.


We still have little understanding about the complexity of user interaction with social networks, especially their motivation to use them. The authors suggested a two-factor model: (1) need to belong and (2) need for self-presentation. ‘These needs can act independently and are influenced by a host of other factors, including the cultural background, sociodemographic variables, and personality traits, such as introversion, extraversion, shyness, narcissism, neuroticism, self-esteem, and self-worth’ (Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2011).

The authors recommended that more research look into the differences between individualistic and collectivistic cultures to examine whether FB use serves a different function in different culture groups.People in the latter show greater emphasis on belonging with a group, whilst the former shows being a ‘lone wolf’ and more greater need to self-present. ‘Therefore, we expect that members of individualistic cultures are more likely to share private information with their FB friends and will be more likely to raise potentially controversial topics as compared to FB users from collectivistic cultures. We further expect that members from collectivistic cultures are more likely to have more frequent interactions and form a close circle of FB friends as compared to those from individualistic cultures’ (Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2011).

The two factors reflect general personality traits, and because of this, we can think that similar behavioral patterns are clear in a person’s offline state, mirroring their online state. ‘For example, we might assume that individuals who are frequent FB users with many FB friends have frequent social contact offline. FB users who show a clear mismatch between offline and online behaviors might attempt to compensate for any perceived or actual deficiencies in social contact and peer-relations’ (Nadkarni and Hofmann, 2011).

Ok, this is me talking now! This is a very interesting look into why people use Facebook. It’s clear that it will be some time before we truly know the real reasons why. But we, as humans, still display some humanistic features. We do like to feel we belong to something, and we do like to portray ourselves as highly as possible.

Now we’re different, but we still so similar. In terms of FB, what we do online is similar about what we do offline (real life). How many people can truly say they don’t exaggerate themselves in their profiles so that other people have a more favoured impression of them? Or that they don’t selectively choice what they show? I wouldn’t call this ‘vain,’ but it certainly is interesting that the choices we make are are so engraved in culture.

So why do people use FB? In some of the studies looked at, FB has been shown to improve self-esteem, self-presentation and life satisfaction. It allowed people to fit into new situations with other people, thus making them belong. I don’t know if this is the case all the time, but clearly there is evidence to support this claim.

If anyone is interested, here’s the link for the article by Nadkarni and Hofmann. Any studies they’ve included will be shown in the bibliography. It’s worth a good read. They don’t answer everything, but what they propose is certainly provoking.

Why Do People Use Facebook?



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