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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Facebook Is Making You Sad
14 August 2013 5:00 pm
Did you spend some time on Facebook today? If so, it probably made you just a little bit sadder. That’s the troubling conclusion of a study of Facebook use and well-being, published today in PLOS ONE. The result is counterintuitive, because abundant psychological research finds that contact with friends and family is crucial for well-being. So it would seem that Facebook should be an ever-flowing fountain of happiness. If you’re stuck at a desk job all day or even completely isolated, as long as you have Facebook, you have “friends.” Why else would half of the world’s 1 billion Facebook users log in every day? But are those cold, glowing pixels a good substitute for real-world contact? Surveys of Facebook users find mixed results. The problem is that standard polls of people at a single point in time can’t distinguish whether any unhappiness associated with Facebook use is due to biased sampling—for example, if people use Facebook more often when they’re already unhappy. The new study cut through that problem by text-messaging people five times a day for two full weeks. Each message contained a link to an online survey that asked participants about their contact with other people, Facebook use, and general well-being and satisfaction. Not only did Facebook use predict a drop in happiness—people tended to be sadder by the end of every visit to the Facebook site—it also predicted a drop in people’s satisfaction with life slightly over the course of the study. That prediction held up even after controlling for differences in the frequency of real-world contact, the size of people’s Facebook networks, degree of loneliness, and self-esteem. What a bummer.