Like a letter, a phone call, an instant message, a text message, an e-mail, Facebook is (rather quickly) becoming an accepted means of communication. A new study titled "Why do people use Facebook?" from researchers Ashwini Nadkarni and Stefan G. Hofmann of Boston University attempts to answer why the social network has become so entrenched in our social lives.
Here's the abstract:
The social networking site, Facebook, has gained an enormous amount of popularity. In this article, we review the literature on the factors contributing to Facebook use. We propose a model suggesting that Facebook use is motivated by two primary needs: (1) the need to belong and (2) the need for self-presentation. Demographic and cultural factors contribute to the need to belong, whereas neuroticism, narcissism, shyness, self-esteem and self-worth contribute to the need for self-presentation. Areas for future research are discussed.
In short, Facebook's 800 million monthly active users (soon to be 1 billion) use the service to fulfill two basic social needs: the need to belong and the need for self-presentation. Of course, Facebook use is also influenced by outside factors, such as cultural background, sociodemographic variables and personality traits; for example, females and ethnic minorities tend to use Facebook more than males and Caucasians. Still, these two needs are the main driving forces, according to the study.
Unfortunately, if you want to read the whole paper, you'll have to shell out $31.50. On the flipside, ReadWriteWeb has already paid for it (or was sent a free copy to publicize, who knows) and wrote about it, so head on over there if you want some extra details.
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