“Facebook is unconsciously habit forming,” Leif Denti, a doctoral candidate at the University of Gothenburg, told the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.
Denti was part of a research team from the university that partnered with the Valentin&Byhr advertising agency to interview 1,000 Swedes ages 14 to 74 about how they use Facebook.
The study revealed that Swedish women spend an average of 81 minutes per day on Facebook, whereas men average about 64 minutes.
Women were also found to feel worse the more time they devoted to their Facebook pages, something researchers theorized stemmed from the women comparing themselves to others’ seemingly idyllic lives.
“People gladly publish pictures of themselves when they are happy, which creates an illusion of happiness because you don’t see those people in their real lives when they aren’t happy,” Denti told DN, likening the phenomenon to comparing oneself with images the grace the covers of fashion magazines.
Researchers also theorized that part of the connection between happiness and Facebook may be because it attracts users who are less happy to begin with – although they emphasized that more research is needed before drawing any definitive conclusions.
The team also wants to explore why men publish provocative material on Facebook to a much greater extent than women.
“That one in four people say they feel down if they can’t log into Facebook regularly, that they feel out of the loop, feels a bit like a wake-up call,” researcher Ida Nilsson told DN.