Research Suggests Materialistic People Use Facebook More

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A new study out of Europe suggest that if you are a materialistic person, you’re more likely to use Facebook more frequently and intensely.

German scientists found that materialistic people view and treat their Facebook friends as “digital objects,” and have many more “friends” than folks who are less interested in possessions. Scientists also discovered that materialists have a major need to regularly compare themselves with others on Facebook.

Ruhr-University Bochum researchers believe the study, published in the journal Heliyon, suggests materialistic people use Facebook to reach personal goals and to make themselves feel good.

They used the outcome of the study to hypothesize a new theoretical construct to explain the observations: The Social Online Self-Regulation Theory.

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“Materialistic people use Facebook more frequently because they tend to objectify their online friends — they acquire Facebook friends to increase their possessions,” remarked lead author and graduate learner, 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 don’t cost money!”

The investigators first used an online questionnaire to query 242 Facebook users.

The survey asked participants to rate their agreement level with a choice of statements in order to determine their Facebook activity (such as “I’m posting photographs”).

The questions were designed to assess social comparison orientation (“I often compare how I am doing socially”), materialism (“My life would be better if I owned certain things I don’t have”), objectification of Facebook friends (“Having many Facebook friends contributes more success in my personal and professional life”), and instrumentalization of Facebook friends (“To what extent do you think Facebook friends are useful in order to attain your goals?”).

The findings suggest a potential link between materialism and social media activity that can be partly explained by materialists showing a higher social comparison orientation, having more online friends, and objectifying and classifying their friends more intensely – all to their benefit.

The authors were able to replicate the assessment with a separate sample of 289 FB users. This one contained fewer students and more guys than the first sample. The conclusions were the same.

The Social Online Self-Regulation Theory researches developed suggests that social media is a tool for reaching important life goals.

For materialists, social media is a way to measure how distant they are from their goal to become rich.

Researchers made sure to mention that their results should not be used to portray social media negatively; instead, they suggest people use apps like Facebook to feel good, experience fun and move about the business of goal attainment.

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“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 explained.

“We found that materialists instrumentalize 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.”

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The Social Online Self-Regulation Theory they developed extends this further, saying that social media is a tool for achieving important goals in life. For materialists, Facebook is a tool to learn how far away they are from their goal to become wealthy.

The researchers emphasize that their results should not cast social media in a negative light; instead, they assume people use platforms like Facebook to feel good, have fun and achieve their goals.

“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 explained.

“We found that materialists instrumentalize 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.”

Source of study: Elsevier

About John D. Moore 178 Articles
Dr. John Moore is a counselor and educator. He writes about men's interest topics, including mental health, self-esteem, science, and research. He holds a Ph.D. in Psychology from Northcentral University and a MBA from Indiana Tech. Click on: BIO to learn more. Be sure to follow Guy Counseling on Twitter