Facebook snubs hurt as much as real-life rejections: Study

Online snubs hurt people just as much as real-life rejections,a new study says.

Written by Agencies | London | Published: April 5, 2012 5:42 pm

If you have ever felt bad over your Facebook ‘friend’ request being turned down,you are not alone,for a new study has found that online snubs hurt people just as much as real-life rejections.

Researchers at Penn State University in the US found that people feel ‘withdrawn’ and ‘numb’ when their ‘friend’ request on social networking sites like Facebook are rejected or just ignored.

The findings,published in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour,suggest that for many of us,Internet is as “real” a place as the real world,the researchers said.

“Facebook — with its approximately 800 million users – serves as a place to forge social connections; however,it is often a way to exclude others without the awkwardness of a face-to-face interaction,” said study author Joshua Smyth,a professor of biobehavioral health and of medicine.

“Most people would probably expect that being ignored or rejected via a remote source like the Internet would not hurt as much as being rejected in person. Yet,our studies show that people may experience similar psychological reactions to online exclusion as they do with face-to-face exclusion,” Prof Smyth was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.

In the study,the researchers looked at 77 university-age students and found that being snubbed or ignored during conversations,they felt rejected,and that the “bad feeling” happened regardless of whether the conversation was “real” or online.

The researchers found that participants in both scenarios responded similarly to being excluded.

“Contrary to our expectation,the students’ responses to rejection were not primarily characterised by severe distress,but rather characterised by numbness and distancing or withdrawal,” Prof Smyth said.

The results show that our culture may not differentiate between in-person and online experiences as much as we might think,the researchers said.

“Although the meaningfulness of online or remote interactions may seem troubling,these data may also hold a more positive message,” Prof Smyth said.

“Meaningful online interactions may allow for remote interventions that can enhance physical and psychological well-being,in turn providing increased access to opportunities for people who are in need.”

However,the researchers cautioned that these findings may be related to the types of individuals who participated in their study.

These studies were conducted with college-aged students who have grown up with the Internet. Thus,these findings may not apply to people who are less tech-savvy.

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