A new study says that people with a sense of purpose do not rely on Facebook ‘likes’ and other positive social media feedbacks to feel good. In the first study on the effects of purpose in the online world, researchers have found that having a sense of purpose limits how reactive people are to positive feedback on social media. Researchers define a sense of purpose as ongoing motivation that is self-directed, oriented toward the future and beneficial to others. People with a strong sense of purpose tend to agree with such statements as To me, all the things I do are worthwhile and I have lots of reasons for living. Also Read - Internet down: Zomato, Paytm, Disney+ Hotstar, Amazon, Myntra, many other global services suffered massive outageAlso Read - Facebook gives voice to emojis with Soundmoji: Here's how to send
We found that having a sense of purpose allowed people to navigate virtual feedback with more rigidity and persistence. With a sense of purpose, they’re not so malleable to the number of likes they receive, said Anthony Burrow, assistant professor at Cornell University in the US. Purposeful people noticed the positive feedback, but did not rely on it to feel good about themselves, Burrow further said. While it is nice to receive compliments, online or otherwise, it may not be a good thing to base one’s self-esteem on them, Burrow said. Otherwise, on days when you receive few likes, you’ll feel worse. Your self-esteem would be contingent on what other people say and think, he said.
Researchers hypothesize that because purposeful people have the ability to see themselves in the future and act in ways that help them achieve their goals, they can inhibit impulsive responses to perceived rewards, such that they prefer larger downstream incentives to smaller immediate ones. For the study researchers recruited nearly 250 active Facebook users. They measured the participants’ self-esteem and sense of purpose, and asked how many likes they typically got on photos they posted. The Facebook users who reported getting more likes on average also reported greater self-esteem. However, those with a high level of purpose showed no change in self-esteem, no matter how many likes they got. That is, receiving more likes only corresponded with greater self-esteem for those who had lower levels of purpose, Burrow said.
In another experiment, researchers asked about 100 students to take a selfie and post it to a mock social media site, Faces of the Ivies. The students were told that their photo had received a high, low or average number of likes. Getting a high number of likes boosted self-esteem but, again, only for students who had less purpose. In fact, those higher in purpose showed no elevation in self-esteem, even when they were told they received a high number of likes, Burrow said. ALSO READ: Here s how social media redefines how people grieve
This is the first study to show purpose lowers reactivity to positive events. Most research to date on purpose has looked at it as buffer against negative events such as stress. The research was published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology. ALSO READ: Sharing personal experiences on Facebook, Twitter makes it easier to remember them: Study