Study: Women, Facebook and Photos

A new study from the University at Buffalo in New York lends scientific evidence to what many of us already knew: Females who are more likely to base their self-worth on their appearance are also more likely to post photos and have wider networks on social networking sites.

According to lead researcher Michael Stefanone, women in general are online more than men, and they also post five times as many photos on their Facebook pages. However, women whose self-esteem was derived from public-based contingencies, like approval from others and physical attractiveness, were far more likely to share photos of themselves and have more “friends” than those whose self-esteem was derived from private-based contingencies, like academic competence and fulfilling family relationships. Those less-insecure people also spent less time online.

“Although it’s stereotypical and might have been predicted,” says Stefanone, who teaches in the communications department, “it is disappointing to me that in the year 2011 so many young women continue to assert their self worth via their physical appearance—in this case, by posting photos of themselves on Facebook as a form of advertisement.”

It is also worth asking whether Facebook is also making women (or anyone, really) more shallow and insecure, by providing them with a new way to obsess about self-presentation.

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