Merely looking at this picture is enough to get people excited
Merely looking at this picture is enough to get people excited

Facebook traps people in a 'cycle of failure' that makes them keep using it, research suggests

Trying to leave just makes you want to come back even more, study says

Andrew Griffin@_andrew_griffin
Friday 04 August 2017 10:01

Scientists might have found why you finally keep looking at your Facebook feed.

And it's all because – despite how it might feel – going on there makes you feel good, according to the new research.

Even briefly looking at something related to Facebook, like its logo or the news feed, can be enough to give people great pleasure. A desire to repeat that pleasure keeps people logging on they found, and triggers cravings when people aren't logged on.

Then, when people decide they want to leave Facebook, they miss out on that pleasure. They'll then start feeling guilty, go on Facebook to cheer themselves up again – and feel bad all over again.

Researchers said that behaviour was a "cycle of self-regulatory failure" that keeps people logging on, then logging off, then logging back on again.

And the guilt over failing to actually cut out social media is damaging to the psyche, according to Michigan State University's Allison Eden, who conducted the study.

People might be best looking to force themselves to remove Facebook from their life entirely, the researchers said. That might include removing the Facebook app from your phone's home screen, they suggested.

"Media, including social media, is one of the most commonly failed goals to regulate," Eden said. "People try to regulate themselves and they really have difficulty with it."

The researchers conducted two studies, looking at people who use Facebook a lot and people who use it less.

in the first study, people were asked to look either at something related to Facebook – like its logo – or something else entirely, and then at a Chinese symbol. They were then told to say whether the symbol was pleasant or unpleasant.

Facebook successfully tests its aquilla drone

Heavy Facebook users who had looked at an image related to the site were far more likely to say that the Chinese symbol was pleasant.

"People are learning this reward feeling when they get to Facebook," she said. "What we show with this study is that even with something as simple as the Facebook logo, seeing the Facebook wall of a friend or seeing anything associated with Facebook, is enough to bring that positive association back."

In the second study, people were asked to measure their cravings for Facebook. They found that people often gave into the temptation to use Facebook and then fell into the cycle of failure that can damage their psyche.

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