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Published Online: 22 December 2011

Why Is Facebook So Successful? Psychophysiological Measures Describe a Core Flow State While Using Facebook

Publication: Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume 14, Issue Number 12

Abstract

People are more and more using social networking sites (SNSs) like Facebook and MySpace to engage with others. The use of SNSs can have both positive and negative effect on the individual; however, the increasing use of SNSs might reveal that people look for SNSs because they have a positive experience when they use them. Few studies have tried to identify which particular aspects of the social networking experience make SNSs so successful. In this study we focus on the affective experience evoked by SNSs. In particular, we explore whether the use of SNSs elicits a specific psychophysiological pattern. Specifically, we recorded skin conductance, blood volume pulse, electroencephalogram, electromyography, respiratory activity, and pupil dilation in 30 healthy subjects during a 3-minute exposure to (a) a slide show of natural panoramas (relaxation condition), (b) the subject's personal Facebook account, and (c) a Stroop and mathematical task (stress condition). Statistical analysis of the psychophysiological data and pupil dilation indicates that the Facebook experience was significantly different from stress and relaxation on many linear and spectral indices of somatic activity. Moreover, the biological signals revealed that Facebook use can evoke a psychophysiological state characterized by high positive valence and high arousal (Core Flow State). These findings support the hypothesis that the successful spread of SNSs might be associated with a specific positive affective state experienced by users when they use their SNSs account.

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Published In

cover image Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Volume 14Issue Number 12December 2011
Pages: 723 - 731
PubMed: 21879884

History

Published online: 22 December 2011
Published in print: December 2011
Published ahead of print: 31 August 2011

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    Affiliations

    Maurizio Mauri
    Institute of Human, Language and Environmental Sciences, IULM University, Milan, Italy.
    Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
    Pietro Cipresso
    Institute of Human, Language and Environmental Sciences, IULM University, Milan, Italy.
    Applied Technology for Neuro-Psychology Lab, Istituto Auxologico Italiano–IRCCS, Milano, Italy.
    Anna Balgera
    Institute of Human, Language and Environmental Sciences, IULM University, Milan, Italy.
    Marco Villamira
    Institute of Human, Language and Environmental Sciences, IULM University, Milan, Italy.
    Giuseppe Riva
    Applied Technology for Neuro-Psychology Lab, Istituto Auxologico Italiano–IRCCS, Milano, Italy.
    Dipartimento di Psicologia, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milano, Italy.

    Notes

    Address correspondence to:Dr. Maurizio MauriInstitute of Human, Language and Environmental SciencesIULM UniversityVia Carlo Bo, 8Milan 20143Italy
    E-mail: [email protected]; [email protected]

    Disclosure Statement

    No competing financial interests exist.

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