Researchers have discovered that people who spend a lot of time on Facebook are more likely to be materialistic.
We’ve all got them – those annoying Facebook friends who when not sharing silly motivational quotes are posting selfies showing off their non existent gym gains.
Previous scientific studies have revealed that these people suffer from an overwhelming need to appear to be successful, are really lonely and could even have mental health problems, but now a new study says they are also materialistic.
Researchers said that those who spend a lot of time browsing and posting on Facebook actually have more friends, but not because people genuinely like them.
Instead they see their friends as “digital objects” and suffer from a desperate need to “try to competitively have more than others”.
The study was carried out by researchers at Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany who said that Facebook is used by materialistic people to help them feel good about themselves.
“Materialistic people use Facebook more frequently because they tend to objectify their Facebook friends – they acquire Facebook friends to increase their possession,” said lead author Phillip Ozimek.
“Facebook provides the perfect platform for social comparisons, with millions of profiles and information about people.
“And it’s free – materialists love tools that do not cost money!”
Researchers first conducted a study of 242 Facebook users (54 males and 188 females) who were asked to complete an online survey which asked them rate their agreements on such statements as “I often compare how I am doing socially” or “Having many Facebook friends contributes more success in my personal and professional life” and “To what extent do you think Facebook friends are useful in order to attain your goals?”
The results revealed that people who spend more time on Facebook were more likely to chase consumer items.
A different sample of 289 Facebook users, with the majority gender being male revealed similar results. Researchers said this was because “Narcissists use Facebook for self-glorification, people with low self-esteem for interacting with others and feeling better, materialists use it to acquire and promote possessions.”
However, the researchers also said that social media wasn’t entirely to blame, instead saying it was just a tool to accommodate human desires.
“Social media platforms are not that different from other activities in life – they are functional tools for people who want to attain goals in life, and some might have negative consequences for them or society, Ozimek said.
“We found that materialists instrumentalise their friends, but they also 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.”