Psychological Distress and Emotional Expression on Facebook.

Research paper by Natalya N NN Bazarova, Yoon Hyung YH Choi, Janis J Whitlock, Dan D Cosley, Victoria V Sosik

Indexed on: 25 Jan '17Published on: 25 Jan '17Published in: Cyberpsychology, behavior and social networking


Social network sites (SNS) are a novel social environment for college students with psychological distress to connect with their peers, but the nature and effects of these interactions are not well understood. This study reports findings from a Facebook study among 238 college students reporting nonspecific psychological distress using the K-6 scale. Behavioral data included Facebook status updates containing affect words written by participants within the past 60 days and the number of responses (comments and likes) each update received. The updates were also coded for depression symptoms. Self-report data included participants' self-presentational concerns, the affective valence of each post, effects of responses on mood, and satisfaction with the responses to and outcome of each status update. Higher psychological distress was associated with displaying depression language on Facebook, with higher self-presentational concerns, and with less satisfaction with audiences' responses and less overall satisfaction with the outcome of the interaction. These results offer a unique glimpse into the social world of college students with psychological distress through their everyday use of Facebook, and how the interplay of this novel environment and students' mental health impacts their social behaviors and interaction meaning-making on Facebook.