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Staring at your own Facebook profile can increase self-worth, lower motivation, study says

Spending just a few minutes looking through a personal Facebook page can lead to a boost in self-esteem, but it can also cause users to become unmotivated.
Spending just a few minutes looking through a personal Facebook page can lead to a boost in self-esteem, but it can also cause users to become unmotivated.
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Spending just a few minutes looking through your own Facebook page can lead to a boost in self-esteem, but it can also cause users to become unmotivated.

Researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison recently published a study in the journal Media Psychology that found that users who look at their own profile pages for five minutes had a measurable boost in self-esteem, followed by a dip in motivation.

"The increase in self-worth and self-integrity induced by Facebook-profile exposure was shown to backfire by reducing users’ motivation to perform well in subsequent cognitive tasks of moderate difficulty,” noted author Catalina Toma.

In the study, 159 U.S. college students were asked to look at their own Facebook profiles or someone else's profile for five minutes. Afterward, the students participated in a cognitive math test: to count down as fast as possible from the number 1,978 in intervals of seven, for two minutes.

Students who spent five minutes basking in their own profile experienced a significant boost in self-esteem. However, when they were tasked with the math test, they performed 15 percent slower than the students who spent time looking at someone else's profile.

"Performing well in a task can boost feelings of self-worth," Toma said in a statement. "However, if you already feel good about yourself because you looked at your Facebook profile, there is no psychological need to increase your self-worth by doing well in a laboratory task."

The Atlantic writer Lindsay Abrams wrote that one reason the students who looked at their own profiles performed worse was because they "resented being torn away from their online social world so much so that they had trouble concentrating on anything else."

Editor's Note: The original version of this story posted on June 6, 2013, failed to properly attribute all source materials, which violates our editorial policies. The story was revised on Oct. 10, 2013, to link to original source material.

Email: crenouard@deseretnews.com