(Relaxnews)—"The conventional wisdom is that Facebook use is merely a time sink and leads to an assortment of negative consequences," says lead researchers Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication at Cornell University. "But our research shows that it can be a psychologically meaningful activity that supplies a sense of well-being at a relatively deep level."
"The extraordinary amount of time people spend on Facebook may be a reflection of its ability to satisfy ego needs that are fundamental to the human condition," he adds. In the study, the research team asked 88 undergraduates to give a brief speech. While waiting for feedback, subjects poked around on Facebook, looking at either their own profile or those of others. After a few minutes, all of the subjects received negative feedback regarding their speech, regardless of their actual performance. When asked to rate how accurate the feedback was, subjects who looked at their own profile were less defensive about the negative feedback than those who looked at someone else's profile. Furthermore, the researchers say that browsing Facebook could help social network users "restore deep-seated notions of themselves as a good person loved by a network of friends and family," says Hancock. "Perhaps online daters who are anxious about being single or recently divorced may find comfort in the process of composing or reviewing their online profiles, as it allows them to reflect on their core values and identity," he adds. "Students who are feeling stressed about upcoming exams might similarly find solace in their social networking site profiles." The research, announced Wednesday, appears in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. In a separate study last month, authors of a recently published study also say that Facebook has a positive effect on psychological well-being and can increase bonding. Published in "Behaviour & Information Technology," the study investigated the role the social network plays in the lives of 800 students from seven universities in South Africa. Access the new study: http://psp.sagepub.com/content/39/3/321.abstract