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Research Project Weighs 'The Selfie Effect'

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October 2016

In an age when affirmation is just a click away and can be as addictive as peach pie, social media users are constantly searching for a thumb's up.

How do we like it when the "likes" aren't coming?

Well, a crew of SAU psychology students has discovered that can hurt. Literally.

Under the direction of Assistant Professor Shyam Seetharaman, PhD, students Bayley Keys, Abigail Landrum, Alexandra Brown and Anne Froeschle conducted a Undergraduate Summer Research Institute project called "The Selfie Effect."

The study measured the physical and psychological reactions of campus social media users, half of whom were assigned to a group that was given 38 likes for a "selfie" posted to an fake Instagram page. The other half were given just two "likes," and then tested for their reactions. The results were both predictable and a bit surprising.

Members of the low like group showed physical signs of higher stress levels, including higher heart rates and blood pressure numbers and they also performed poorly on memory tests administered after they saw their post's approval numbers.

Seetharaman said older users were more likely to react adversely, although the study gave members of the student group, all of who grew up using social media, cause to consider its impact, as well.

"I use it every day and it's normal to use it," Landrum told the Quad-City Times, "but after this, I'm not going to post a photo before a test, for example. We shouldn't take social media too seriously."

Read the full story.

Follow the 2016 Undergraduate Summer Reseasrch Institute blog.


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