Does Facebook makes you feel that everyone's having fun except you? You may be just overestimating your friends' happiness, suggests a new study.
A Stanford University research has suggested that when we misgauge our friends' negative feelings, we feel worse about ourselves.
For the study, the researchers examined how college students evaluate their own mood and that of their peers. They foound students greatly underestimated other people's negative emotions, which in turn increased their own feelings of unhappiness because they felt "less normal."
"People think, 'Why am I alone on a Saturday night or why I am not in a relationship?'" he said. "When people overestimate the happiness of friends, they felt more negatively about their own lives," ABC News quoted lead researcher Alex Jordan, a social psychologist, as saying.
The researchers also found that the majority of students were unable to accurately gauge others' happiness even when they were evaluating the moods of people they knew well. Not surprisingly, the more students underestimated others' negative emotions, the more they tended to report feeling lonely.
Junior Kayla Dellefratte from Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y. logs off Facebook when she begins to feel frustrated with what she is seeing.
"I see one of my friends living life, their own life, and I feel like stalking their photos is like I'm not living. It's not a great feeling," she said.
Catalina Toma, a communications professor at the University of Wisconsin believes passive Facebook consumption (such as monitoring your friends' newsfeeds) can leave people feeling lonelier than before they logged on.
"People naturally compare themselves to those around them, a process known as social comparison. If you perceive yourself to be doing better than your friends in an area that is important for you the social comparison will make you feel good. However, if you think your friends surpass you in an area that's important to your self-concept, you will likely feel dejected as a result of the comparison," she wrote in an e-mail.
The study was published in the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.