Here, There, and Everywhere

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Does Facebook Increase Jealousy?

Does Facebook cause jealousy, or just make it worse?

Does Facebook spark jealousy, or does it just amplify the jealousy that may already exist in a relationship?

In a study by Muise, et al. (2009), 308 undergraduate students completed a survey regarding usage of Facebook and impact on relationships.  The purpose of the study was to determine if Facebook causes jealousy above and beyond the already-present level of jealousy in the relationship. 

Participants in the study spent an average of 38.93 minutes per day on Facebook.  A majority of study participants (74.6%), were at least somewhat likely to "friend" a former partner, and 78.9% of participants said their partner had friended a former partner.  Ninety-two percent (92.1%) of study participants said their partner had Facebook friends that they did not know. 

Women were found to spend significantly more time on Facebook - 40.57 minutes a day, versus 29..83 minutes a day for men.

The study found that increased use of Facebook does, in fact, significantly predict increased jealousy.  Women scored significantly higher on Facebook jealousy than men, 3.29 versus 2.81.

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There may be several reasons for an increase of jealousy due to Facebook:

  • People find out information on Facebook about their partner that they otherwise would not be privy to;
  • Facebook provides more opportunities for reconnecting with former partners;
  • A false sense of intimacy may be established on Facebook, therefore leading people to be more prone to cheating;
  • A relationship may already consist of at least one partner with jealousy issues, and Facebook just is another outlet for the jealous behavior;
  • People may develop a "real-life identity" and a "Facebook identity", thus leading the partner to feel as if they really don't know their partner anymore;
  • Increased time on Facebook may be cutting into quality time with the partner;
  • It reminds people daily that their partner had a romantic life before them;
  • People may become concerned about their partner's Facebook friends posting suggestive messages on their wall;
  • A partner may be "poking" people that a person deems inappropriate. 

The authors also discuss emotion-related jealousy and trait-related jealousy.  Emotion-related jealousy is related to feeling jealousy in a particular situation, such as imagining a partner's infidelity, while trait-related jealousy appears to be built-in to a someone's personality.  Trait-jealousy was a significant predictor of Facebook jealousy, which along with gender, accounted for 46% of the variance. 

Reference:

Muise, A., Christofides, E., and Desmarais, S. (2009) More information than you ever wanted: Does Facebook bring out the green-eyed monster of jealousy? CyberPsychology & Behavior 12(4):441-444. doi:10.1089/cpb.2008.0263.

Copyright 2011 Sarkis Media LLC

www.stephaniesarkis.com

Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D., N.C.C., L.M.H.C., is the author of Making the Grade with ADD and ADD and Your Money. 

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