Being Rejected on Facebook Hurts Too
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Nobody likes to be excluded from anything, whether it's not being invited to a party or not being included in a conversation. However, who would have thought that a person could also feel excluded on websites like Facebook?
That's right, being ignored or rejected on Facebook can hurt just as bad as being rejected in a face-to-face situation.
There was a study recently released by Penn State professors that studied human apprehensions after being ignored or rejected online. Joshua Smyth, professor of biobehavioral health and of medicine at Penn State says:
If you’ve ever felt bad about being ‘ignored’ on Facebook you’re not alone. Facebook — with its approximately 800 million users — serves as a place to forge social connections; however, it is often a way to exclude others without the awkwardness of a face-to-face interaction.
There were multiple studies that took place examining rejection face-to-face and online. In the first study, researchers questioned 275 college students to predict what they would feel in a hypothetical exclusion scenario where they were ignored during a conversation. The common assumptions were feelings of distress and a decrease in self-esteem, whether the conversation took place in person or online. Of course, participants believed that face-to-face rejection would hurt more than online rejection.
In the second study, researchers set up 2 scenarios in which 77 unsuspecting college students were ignored during a staged "get to know you" conversation. Half of the students were rejected online and the other half were rejected in person. Those participating in the face-to-face interaction thought that they were participating in a study examining the "formation of impressions when individuals do not receive visual cues from one another."
Results of the Study
Researchers found that the participants in both scenarios responded similarly to exclusion.
Smyth says, "Contrary to our expectation, the students’ responses to rejection were not primarily characterized by severe distress, but rather characterized by numbness and distancing or withdrawal."
The team found that participants expected the rejection to be worse than what they had actually experienced. Researcher, Kelly Filipkowski, had this to say:
What we found interesting is that in the lab setting, the vast majority of participants attributed their exclusion as being no fault of their own, but rather due to the other individuals in the room. In other words, people said, ‘it isn’t me, it’s you.’ This may have been a type of protective mechanism in order to buffer their mood and self-esteem.
Investigators believe that these findings may explain that we don't make a distinction between face-to-face encounters and those online as much as we think we do.
"Future studies will be designed to investigate the applicability of these findings to different populations." The results of both studies appeared in a recent online issue of Computers in Human Behavior.