A new study shows regular Facebook creeping increases social anxiety upon in-person meeting.
Researchers at Benedictine University, Ariz. and the Providence College, R.I. found when participants viewed a Facebook profile then saw the same person in real life, they became more anxious.
Participants were female undergraduate students between the ages of 18 to 20, according to the study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking on March 4.
“Females experience higher levels of social anxiety in general,” study author Shannon M. Rauch said.
Rauch said creeping is not only very common, but can be harmful.
“People make social comparisons, and often idealize their friends’ lives. The study proves that using Facebook will not make in-person interaction more comfortable,” she said.
The study also revealed participants felt safe viewing others on a screen while the shift to live interaction created heightened nervousness.
“People make assumptions about others. If they view someone’s profile that is attractive and have low self-esteem themselves, feelings of inadequacy start before meeting in-person,” said Dr. Dan Andreae, a psychology professor at University of Guelph-Humber.
“With so much focus on technology, people start relying on it too much. Students lack interpersonal skills,” said Dr. Andreae.
The study had certain limitations. Participants were not using their own Facebook page and friends during observation and only encounters with the same sex were considered.
Dr. Andreae said any study is open to contradiction. It all depends on the individual and personal self-esteem issues.
“Future research will aim to look at participants’ subjective experience,” said Rauch.