Okay, so maybe you don’t want to know the nickname that girl from your high school has given her new paramour, just like you don’t particularly want to know the color of the daisies he bought her last week, or what they ate on their anniversary date, or the fact that he is, hands down, the best boyfriend ever. Surely, there are other, more valuable things that could be taking up the space in your brain currently occupied by the knowledge that she’s the luckiest girl in the world.
But chances are you know these things anyway, because Facebook knows them, too.
As it turns out, Facebook knows a lot of things about its users’ romantic lives. It knows when they’re falling in love, and it knows when they’re falling out of love. But what it sees in between may have a lot to do with the self-esteem of the individuals doing the falling: New research from Albright College found that people whose confidence is more closely tied to the strength of their romantic relationship—or those with higher levels of relationship-contingent self-esteem, in psych-speak—are more likely to use the social networking site to broadcast their happiness.
Researchers surveyed a small group of volunteers in relationships ranging from one month to 30 years in duration about their satisfaction and relationship-related Facebook habits, including how often they posted couple photos and how much they interacted with their partners’ pages. Separately, they used a self-reporting personality test to assess participants’ personalities based on five traits: extroversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, comprising what’s known to psychologists as the “Big Five.”