Being a closer observer of your social network accounts could actually be a sign of being less social in real life, that’s the claim being made by a recent study of Facebook users. According to researchers at the University of Alabama, shy people are more likely to use spend larger amounts of time on Facebook.

The team, led by Pavica Sheldon, an associate professor in the Communication Arts Department, conducted several long-term studies about Facebook users. Researchers found that introverted people tend to use Facebook for longer periods of time, while looking around the social network more often.

More Facebook Use But Less Interaction

Dr. Sheldon found that while introverted or “shy” people use Facebook for longer periods, they spend less time uploading photos or posting to their friends’ walls. Essentially Facebook’s biggest user base are more “wallflowers” than power users. As Dr. Sheldon notes, “The shy people spend more time on Facebook, but they disclose less information.”

The research team explains that Facebook offers “narcissist” advantages to extroverts who benefit by staying connected to friends and family with the help of video, picture, and status update uploads.

Dr. Sheldon offers an interesting finding from his teams various studies:

“What I found out is that my research supports the ‘rich get richer’ hypothesis. Those users who are richer in their offline relationships will also benefit more from their use of Facebook. The more extroverted you are, the more you will benefit.”

Extroverts Create A Groupthink Effect on Facebook

Introverts may feel more comfortable discussing certain topics after an extrovert has introduced the topic of discussion. According to another recent study by a team at the Pew Research Center and Rutgers University, many users shy away from touchy topics such as politics and religion. However, once they realize that others agree with their point of view, they will engage in a type of social media groupthink, allowing them to engage with similar ideas.

Essentially Facebook is ruled by extroverts who share more of their lives events, while directly the general conversations that their friends, family members, and co-workers engage in.

While this study focused on Facebook, it could lend some insight into other social networks. For example, previous Twitter studies have found that a very small subset of power users direct most of the new posts on that social network. However, millions, and perhaps tens of millions of Twitter users, find news and other website posts by browsing the network with little or no direct interaction such as tweets, retweets, or favorites.


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