Facebook fuels jealousy in relationships

Facebook fuels jealousy in relationships

The study also finds that the need for popularity drives young people to disclose more personal information on Facebook than they normally would reveal.

In their study, Emily Christofides and Amy Muise of the University of Guelph near Toronto say Facebook use leaves many triggers for jealousy in your partner.

Syas lead author Amy Muise,"You check your partner's (Facebook) page and you see a post from someone you don't know that says, 'It was great seeing you last night'.

"Even though it could be something very innocent, it can easily be interpreted another way.''Once triggered, she says, Facebook-fuelled jealously leads your spouse to dig for more information about your chat partners, thus setting in motion a vicious cycle.

If it is not stopped immediately, your relationship may soon go from "married'' to "complicated'' to divorced.

According to the study, though the majority of people (76 per cent) are concerned about privacy and information control, they still disclose a great deal of personal information in online environments.

"They share and show more about themselves than they might in other social settings. We wanted to find out if different psychological factors are involved in that behaviour,'' says co-author Christofides.

This includes information about birthdays, email addresses, hometowns, school and degree major, and intimate photographs, she says.

Christofides says that the nature of the social networking website is a contributing factor as Facebook includes a template where users fill in information - from their name to relationship status to even their religion.

"This creates 'norms' regarding what specific information to disclose based on what others have disclosed,'' she says.

As a result, people may choose to leave out revealing information., she adds.

"The need for popularity was (also) found to be a significant predictor of information disclosure," adds lead author Amy Muise.  Thus information disclosure becomes the key factor in assessing one's popularity on Facebook.

"What others share and say about you is also a part of Facebook. The people who are the most popular are those whose online identity is actively participated in by others. So the more you share, the more others respond,''says the study.

Thus, popularity and disclosure become inextricably linked, the researchers say.

"People with a high need for popularity may indeed care about their privacy, but they may not be willing to sacrifice their popularity by implementing privacy controls,'' according to Christofides.

As part of their study, the two researchers surveyed 343 Facebook users, all university students between the ages of 17 and 24.

Facebook, which has over 200 million users worldwide, is also the most popular networking website in Canada. The study has been published in the journal CyberPsychology and Behaviour.