Study: Facebook use fuels jealousy, hurts relationships

Facebook posts on current and past relationships can prove tempting to partners

Worried that your relationship is going south? Maybe it's time to get off Facebook.

A study released by the University of Guelph in Ontario shows that the Facebook social network increases jealousy in users' romantic relationships.

The study, which was published in the latest issue of CyberPsychology and Behaviour, concluded that the more time people spend on Facebook, the more jealous they get.

"Facebook gives people access to information about their partner that may otherwise not be accessible," said Amy Muise, a Ph.D. student in psychology who conducted the study with student colleague Emily Christofides. "This may include details about their partner's friendships and social exchanges, especially interactions with previous romantic or sexual partners."

The simple availability of information -- whether it's a girlfriend's posts, or photos and details about her friends and exes -- seems to increase a person's desire to search for even more information, say researchers.

"It becomes a feedback loop," Christofides said. "Jealousy leads to increased surveillance of a partner's Facebook page, which results in further exposure to jealousy-provoking information."

The study, which surveyed 308 Facebook users between the ages of 17 and 24, noted that most said they were aware that poking around their significant other's Facebook page would increase their jealousy. However, the users also said that they simply couldn't withstand the temptation.

"It fosters a vicious cycle," Christofides said. "If one partner in a relationship discloses personal information, it increases the likelihood that the other person will do the same, which increases the likelihood of jealousy."

Facebook usage seems to be tough on college students in general.

Last spring, an Ohio State University study found that college students who use Facebook spend less time studying and have lower grades than students who don't use the popular social networking site.

And last December, the same OSU research team released a study showing that the desire for popularity is pushing people to disclose more and more personal information on Facebook.

The earlier study showed that 76% of people surveyed were concerned about their personal privacy yet still revealed a lot of information, such as birthday, e-mail address, location and photographs.

Muise said that study revealed that a person's desire for online popularity is directly related to how much information they post online.

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