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Envy Seems to Drive Many Facebook Posts

Envy Seems to Drive Many Facebook Posts

A study by Canadian researchers suggests envy is a key motivator behind Facebook posts. Investigators believe this finding is worrisome as the practice can contribute to a decrease in psychological well-being among users.

Dr. Izak Benbasat, a University of British Columbia School of Business Professor, and his collaborators posit that Facebook use can create a vicious cycle of jealousy and self-importance.

They believe their research supports the argument that Facebook leads users to feel their lives are unfulfilling by comparison to others. As such, people react by creating posts that portray an unrealistic view of self.

The study appears in the journal Information Systems Research.

“Social media participation has been linked to depression, anxiety, and narcissistic behavior, but the reasons haven’t been well-explained,” said Benbasat. “We found envy to be the missing link.”

According to Benbasat, travel photos are a leading contributor to Facebook envy, pushing friends to post their most perfect pictures. He says the unrealistic portrayal of life is not motivated by the desire to make others jealous, but rather a need to compete and keep up appearances.

For the study, Benbasat and his co-authors surveyed 1,193 Facebook users at a German university. They asked students a series of questions about their Facebook habits and cross-referenced them with the feelings they reported when using the platform.

Benbasat says the functionality of social networks encourages envy-inducing behavior, and that’s unlikely to change.

“Sharing pictures and stories about the highlights of your life —¬†that’s so much of what Facebook is for, so you can’t take that away,” he said.

“But I think it’s important for people to know what impact it can have on their well-being. Parents and teachers should take note as young people can be particularly vulnerable to the dark side of social media.”

Source: University of British Collumbia/EurekAlert

Photo:Alexey Boldin /

Envy Seems to Drive Many Facebook Posts

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. (2018). Envy Seems to Drive Many Facebook Posts. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 5, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018 (Originally: 1 Dec 2015)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
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