The Happiness Institute in Copenhagen have recently published a research report, The Facebook Experiment, in which they question if social media affect the quality of our lives.
The conclusion is that we are influenced by social comparisons when we evaluate our lives. Can staying off Facebook make you happier? Apparently so.
Since social media is a constant flow of great news for people in general, the institute wanted to conduct an experiment with a randomized trial group of 1,095 daily Facebook users. They split the participants into two groups; one was allowed to access Facebook and use it as normal, while the other group was forced to quit cold turkey.
Participants, who were between the ages of 16 and 76, filled out a survey answering questions about the quality of their social lives, their ability to concentrate, and how often they compared themselves to others.
Researchers found that 88% of those who were forced to give up Facebook felt “happy,” compared with 81% of those who were still on the site.
The group not on Facebook enjoyed life more, was less angry, and more enthusiastic. The group also saw an increase in their social activity and their satisfaction with their social life. The group that still regularly used Facebook was 55% more likely to feel stressed.
While some participants found it a challenge to give up use of the site at first—citing anxiety about losing touch with the world and their friends—by the end of the week, a majority found that they experienced higher levels of productivity and concentration, as well as more satisfying experiences in their social lives.
However, the results are based on self-reported answers; while researchers found a link between happiness and quitting Facebook, it’s not a causal relationship. Researchers hope to further investigate whether the positive feeling participants felt after quitting Facebook could last more than a week.
You may download the report here.
Earlier this month, an Australian teenager with more than half a million followers on Instagram quit social media, describing it as “contrived perfection made to get attention”.
Danish Study on Facebook Dependency, written by Tor Kjolberg