Vanity, Thy Name is Facebook
3/8/2011 by: Darleen Hartley
A researcher in communication technology and social networking analysis could have coined the phrase "Vanity, thy name is woman." He discovered that females who base their self worth on their appearance are more into sharing photos and having larger on-line social networks than others.
Michael Stefanone, Ph.D., University of Buffalo (UB) assistant professor in the Communications Department, published a study in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking. His results suggest that females use Facebook as a platform to compete for attention. The study attempted to explain specific online behavior on social network sites depending on several variables. It looked at the amount of time 311 participants spent managing profiles, how many photos they shared, the size of their online networks, and how voracious they were "friending" people they had not actually met in person. Of those in the study, males and females were split almost 50-50, with an average age of 23.3 years.
The participants’ sense of self worth was measured using a standard tool, the CSW Scale (contingences of self worth). Contingencies were defined as public (approval of others, physical appearance, and coming out on top in competition), or private (academic competence, family love and support, and being virtuous and moral). People qualifying as public were more prolific at photo sharing, while those qualifying as private spent less time online and displayed less attention seeking behavior.
Stefanone, who shared authorship with Derek Lackaff, PhD, previously with UB, and currently at the University of Texas, Austin, and Devan Rosen, PhD, University of Hawaii, Manoa, said: "The results suggest persistent differences in the behavior of men and women that result from a cultural focus on female image and appearance." After all, isn’t it the woman who asks "Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who’s the Fairest of Them All?"
"Although it's stereotypical and might have been predicted," continues Stefanone, "it is disappointing to me that in the year 2011 so many young women continue to assert their self worth via their physical appearance – in this case, by posting photos of themselves on Facebook as a form of advertisement. Perhaps this reflects the distorted value pegged to women's looks throughout the popular culture."
Stefanone also explores novel uses of CMC technologies like blogs and social network sites, and the effects these tools have on interpersonal relationships. He conducts his research at the University of Buffalo, a research-intensive public university which was founded in 1846. He describes the study in a video interview which you can see below:
Michael Stefanone, University of Buffalo, Behavior, Social Networking, Facebook, photo sharing, vanity, CSW Scale, self worth, Derek Lackaff, University of Texas, Devan Rosen, University of Hawaii, popular culture
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