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Secret Behind Why We Really Use Facebook

Feb 12, 2015 10:51 AM EST

Facebook users everywhere claim they frequent the site to see what their friends are up to and be social, but a new study reveals the secret behind why we really use Facebook, and it has nothing to do with other people.

In reality, researchers at Union College in New York say those who are more active on Facebook - that is, regularly updating their status, posting on walls, commenting on and "liking" people's posts - are actually just trying to get attention.

People that are extremely insecure and suffer somewhat from attachment anxiety worry about not being loved, and fear rejection and abandonment. Their form of reassurance of their relationships with others comes from, at least in part, Facebook.

"Compared to more secure people, those higher in attachment anxiety are more feedback sensitive," Joshua Hart, who led the study, said in a news release. "They report feeling much better about themselves when they get a lot of comments, likes and other feedback on their posts and worse about themselves when their Facebook activity generates little attention."

In the new study, researchers asked nearly 600 people, aged 18 to 83, about their relationships and how they used Facebook. The findings suggest there are two kinds of Facebook users. The first is those who are just extremely extroverted, meaning they simply want everyone to see what they're doing with their lives. The second is those who had higher attachment anxiety and were more likely to show "feedback seeking" on Facebook. These users post content in hopes that people respond and ease their concerns that they're not loved.

And the more active these attention getters are on Facebook, the more attached they become to feedback.

"These studies are consistent with many people's intuitions that some individuals use Facebook to fulfill emotional and relationship needs that are unmet in the 'real' world," Hart said.

This study then begs the question of whether Facebook is good for your psychological health.

"I think the jury's still out on that," he added, "but this research suggests that personality is an important factor to consider when investigating the causes and consequences of people's engagement with social media."

So if you find that you're addicted to Facebook, chances are you may be wildly insecure and should consult a professional doctor, not a virtual one.

The findings were published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

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