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Study links Facebook to overeating, overspending

December 13, 2012

Facebook usage leads to the pursuit of transient esteem boosts, according to the researchers. — Reuters pic Facebook usage leads to the pursuit of transient esteem boosts, according to the researchers. — Reuters pic PARIS, Dec 13 — All that quality time on Facebook may have a detrimental effect on your consumer habits by chipping away at your self-control, according to new research. The results: overspending and overeating.

Facebook can boost self-esteem, but those increased feelings of self-worth can alter your consumer behaviour, and not for the better, researchers say.

“Because consumers care about the image they present to close friends, social network use enhances self-esteem in users who are focused on close friends while browsing their social network,” writes authors Dr Keith Wilcox of Columbia University and Dr Andrew T. Stephen of the University of Pittsburgh, both assistant professors of marketing.

“This momentary increase in self-esteem leads them to display less self-control after browsing a social network.”

Wilcox and Stephen enlisted some 100 Facebook users, equals parts men and women, in a series of five studies, using a combination of surveys, self-esteem tests, and observations after participants browsed Facebook.

Findings showed that more time spent on Facebook was linked with a higher body mass index, increased binge eating, a lower credit score, and higher levels of credit card debt.

Their research, announced Tuesday, will be published in the June 2013 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research.

A February 2012 Pew Internet survey found that two out of three of US Facebook users say they have had an experience online that made them feel good about themselves. — AFP/Relaxnews

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