Facebook rejection, acceptance the subject of PhD thesis

University of Southern Queensland PhD student Tanya Machin is researching the psychological aspects of Facebook interactions

University of Southern Queensland PhD student Tanya Machin.
University of Southern Queensland PhD student Tanya Machin.

Not getting any likes for your awesome updates on Facebook may lead consumers to feel excluded or rejected, according to research being undertaken at the University of Southern Queensland.

A new research project by PhD student, Tanya Machin, gave participants a list of 39 items to rank on their Facebook usage based on a scale ranging from `never’ to `always.’

She found four factors that motivated Facebook use: Meeting people, relationship maintenance, monitoring relationships and seeking information.

For example, one participant said they would use Facebook to meet people who are more interesting than the people they met face-to-face. Another respondent said they would use the site to get information about university-work courses from other students.

According to Machin, “very few” psychological studies have been conducted on Facebook users.

“In most social situations people are cued to rejection and acceptance so it’s interesting to see what cues people pick up from Facebook such as negative comments or the number of people who like their status updates or photos,” she said.

Machin claimed participants reacted to rejection, both real and perceived, on social media differently.

“There are many things that people can take as rejection, such as seeing friends tag each other in statuses and check-ins that you’re not part of,” she said. “Even people posting about their exciting social lives or fun activities can cause some people to feel excluded.”

Machin is now planning a second Facebook study to extend her research about rejection and acceptance cues. This will examine individuals who felt excluded due to a possible Facebook rejection and compare their reactions with people who feel socially accepted on the site.

Her thesis will be completed by the end of 2015.

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