New social networking research by Western Illinois University investigates how individuals use Facebook to maintain their friendships. (Agencies)
Professor Bree McEwan was interested in finding out how one friend's maintenance behaviours on Facebook might affect how his or her friend felt about the relationship.
McEwan collected data from friend dyads and used a statistical technique called the 'actor partner interdependence model,' or APIM.
An APIM analysis allows researchers to determine the unique effects that both an individual and his or her friend have on the relational outcomes, McEwan said.
"Through the analysis, I found that behaviours an individual uses to show he or she cares about his or her friend, specifically behaviours uniquely directed to the friend, are related to positive relational outcomes, such as increased closeness or satisfaction with the friendship," said McEwan.
"For example, using Facebook to post on a friend's wall or to share condolences or congratulations are linked to feeling closer to the friend and more satisfied with the friendship; however, sometimes people just post broadcast-style status updates as a way to maintain specific relationships.
"These types of messages are correlated with negative relational outcomes. In addition, the less an individual posts mass status updates to Facebook, the more that person dislikes it when their friends do so," said McEwan.
According to McEwan, the study supports the idea that using Facebook doesn't necessarily promote relational development nor is it detrimental to friendships.
"Rather, the way we choose to communicate with our friends through this medium is what impacts the relationship," she said.
The study was published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour, and Social Networking.
New social networking research by Western Illinois University investigates how individuals use Facebook to maintain their friendships.