Home » News » Envy on Facebook May Trigger Depression

Envy on Facebook May Trigger Depression

In a new study, researchers at the University of Missouri have found that Facebook use can lead to symptoms of depression if the social networking site triggers feelings of envy among its users.

Margaret Duffy, Ph.D., a professor and chair of strategic communication at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, said how Facebook users use the site makes a difference in how they respond to it.

“Facebook can be a fun and healthy activity if users take advantage of the site to stay connected with family and old friends and to share interesting and important aspects of their lives,” Duffy said.

“However, if Facebook is used to see how well an acquaintance is doing financially or how happy an old friend is in his relationship, things that cause envy among users, use of the site can lead to feelings of depression.”

In the study, Duffy and Dr. Edson Tandoc, an assistant professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, surveyed young Facebook users and found that some of those who engage in “surveillance use” of Facebook also experience symptoms of depression.

However, those who use the site simply to stay connected do not suffer negative effects.

Surveillance use of Facebook occurs when users browse the website to see how their friends are doing compared with their own lives.

The researchers found that Facebook postings about things such as expensive vacations, new houses or cars, or happy relationships can evoke feelings of envy among surveillance users. They say that these feelings of envy can then lead to Facebook users experiencing symptoms of depression.

“We found that if Facebook users experience envy of the activities and lifestyles of their friends on Facebook, they are much more likely to report feelings of depression,” Duffy said.

“Facebook can be a very positive resource for many people, but if it is used as a way to size up one’s own accomplishments against others, it can have a negative effect. It is important for Facebook users to be aware of these risks so they can avoid this kind of behavior when using Facebook.”

“Social media literacy is important,” Tandoc said.

“Based on our study, as well as on what others have previously found, using Facebook can exert positive effects on well-being. But when it triggers envy among users, that’s a different story.

“Users should be self-aware that positive self-presentation is an important motivation in using social media, so it is to be expected that many users would only post positive things about themselves. This self-awareness, hopefully, can lessen feelings of envy.”

Source: University of Missouri-Columbia/EurekAlert

Envy on Facebook May Trigger Depression

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2015). Envy on Facebook May Trigger Depression. Psych Central. Retrieved on June 20, 2018, from https://psychcentral.com/news/2015/02/04/envy-on-facebook-may-trigger-depression/80764.html

 

Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 6 Oct 2015
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Oct 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.