The Cornell study compared the effects of Objective Self Awareness (OSA) and the Hyperpersonal Model, a theory that claims people’s self esteem is improved when they select which information – including photos and profile information on Facebook – can be seen by the viewing public.

OSA charges that focusing attention on ourselves – as the students did while looking into a mirror for three minutes – can lower self esteem because it makes us aware of our imperfections and shortcomings, according to the Cornell study.

“By providing multiple opportunities for selective self-presentation — through photos, personal details, and witty comments — social-networking sites exemplify how modern technology sometimes forces us to reconsider previously understood psychological processes,” said Amy Gonzales, a Ph.D. student and lead author of the social media research.

Cornell students may have had a little more pep in their step after fiddling with their Facebook profiles, but a Stanford University study released in January showed that happy status updates often have a negative impact on Facebook users scanning their friends’ pages.

The study, titled, “Misery Has More Company Than People Think: Underestimating the Prevalence of Others’ Negative Emotions,” posits that viewing positive Facebook statuses “may exacerbate common misperceptions of others’ emotional lives because of the complete control that users have over the public image they project to the world through their photo albums, status updates, friendship networks, and so forth.”

Students who participated in the study consistently overestimated the “number of their peers who were going out and attending parties.”


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