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Facebook-Friends: The cause of stress


A study from the University of Bamberg shows how Facebook can lead to social overload

With the growing number of “friends” on Facebook, users are increasingly being drawn into the lives and problems of their Facebook acquaintances, which can be a serious trigger of stress. This conclusion was reached in a study conducted by business information specialists at the universities of Bamberg and Frankfurt am Main.

Within this study, interviews were conducted with members of the social network Facebook. 571 of these users were then questioned along the lines of an empirical survey about the challenges confronting Facebook users.

In the interviews, Facebook users reported that their online social networking friends post negative and personal information, such as the death of a family member, and in turn seek condolences.

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After receiving such information, the users feel they are socially responsible to react to these posts, but as the list of friends grows larger and larger, the number of posts like these simply exceeds the amount of support are ready and willing to give.

The results of the empirical study show that this social overload is experienced especially by those that spend a large amount of time on Facebook and that have a large number of online friends. However, in the real, offline world, users have little to no contact with these “friends".

Because of this overload, the users become stressed and unhappy, and they are in fact reducing their time spent on Facebook or avoiding it completely. The study results can help Web 2.0 operators achieve a better balance between the amount of users and usage intensity through, for example, granular messaging filters.

The results of this study were published in one of the most important international business information systems journals: In March 2014, the article “Giving too much social support: social overload on social networking sites” by Christian Maier, Dr. Sven Laumer, Dr. Andreas Eckhardt und Prof. Dr. Tim Weitzel appeared in the European Journal of Information Systems.

If you would like to learn more, Christian Maier (, phone: 0049-951-863-3919) and Dr. Sven Laumer (, phone: 0049-951-863-2873) are happy to help.

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Tanja Eisenach | idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft

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