How Facebook can help improve your self-esteem


1st Jan 2015 Technology

How Facebook can help improve your self-esteem

With new studies showing that social media can boost self-esteem, when we're not at our best it seems good advice is to throw ourselves into the blue—the deep shade of blue we all associate with Facebook, that is.

Studies undertaken by Cornell University have involved researchers taking a detailed look at the hugely popular social media site and the correlation between boosted levels of self-esteem.

The reasoning behind it is quite clear-cut.


Putting your best side forwards

One of the benefits of using Facebook is that it allows the user to display themselves as they actively want to be seen.

In effect, it's impossible to have a bad hair day. Those photos of anything from a double-chin to an unsightly blemish—real or imagined—can be filtered out, allowing the user to constantly look their best.

Additional help via filters on phone apps can even help us all to experience a cut-price Photoshop job akin to celebrity air-brushing.


Mirror, mirror on the wall

The mirror can be thought of as stimulus for self-awareness. It's easy to look into one and find fault, particularly when self-esteem is low.

Facebook provides another kind of stimulus, where the user percieving themselved as others do (even if no one is watching). The theory here is that such an environment would lead to a decrease in self-esteem. But on testing the theory, Cornell University found the opposite to be true.

Rather than promoting a deceptive version of ourselves, it's easier to view it as portraying a positive version—you at your best, so to speak.


Esteemed study 

The research involved 63 participants from Cornell University who signed up to take part in social media experiments.

The students were split into three control groups—one group was seated at computers displaying their Facebook profiles; another group sat facing a mirror; and the final group were encouraged to actively engage with their own Facebook profile and associated links.

Each participant was given three minutes before being asked to fill in a questionnaire, designed specifically to measure self-esteem.

The findings were particularly interesting: those who looked at their own profile during the experiment reported higher self-esteem than those facing a mirror.

Those who were allowed to leave their own profile page and click on further links reported lower levels of self-esteem than those who simply browsed their own profile.


Optimal self-presentation

The students who edited their profile during the three-minute phase scored the highest in terms of self-esteem measurement—proving that something as simple as optimising a social media page could play an important role in boosting self-esteem and overall self-confidence.


The conclusion

The authors of the study agreed that users who are selective about how they present themselves—be it in the photos they allow, information they provide or even interests they have—were more likely to have increased self-esteem levels.

The reason for this is that it allows users to feel as if they are conforming to an ideal: one of the biggest measures of high self-esteem.

For those reluctant to cave in to social media, perhaps there's now a better reason than any—positive health benefits.