More Facebook friends mean more stress – study

16 Feb 2011

The more Facebook friends a person has the more likely they are to feel stress about the social networking site, a study by Edinburgh Napier University psychologists suggests.

Thirty-two per cent of the students surveyed online said rejecting friend requests led to feelings of guilt and discomfort, 63pc delayed replying to friend requests, and 10pc said they dislike receiving friend requests.

“The results threw up a number of paradoxes,” said Dr Kathy Charles, who led the study. “For instance, although there is great pressure to be on Facebook there is also considerable ambivalence amongst users about its benefits.

“Our data also suggests that there is a significant minority of users who experience considerable Facebook-related anxiety, with only very modest or tenuous rewards.

The psychologists also found it was those students with the most Facebook contacts, ie, those who had invested the most time on the site, who were most likely to feel Facebook-related stress.

“An overwhelming majority of respondents reported that the best thing about Facebook was ‘keeping in touch’, often without any further explanation,” said Charles. “But many also told us they were anxious about withdrawing from the site for fear of missing important social information or offending contacts.”

Purging unwanted contacts, the pressure to be inventive and entertaining, and having to use appropriate etiquette for different types of friends were other causes of anxiety in Facebook users, Charles said.