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Facebook Surveillance of Former Romantic Partners: Associations with PostBreakup Recovery and Personal Growth


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Abstract Previous research has found that continuing offline contact with an ex-romantic partner following a breakup may disrupt emotional recovery. The present study examined whether continuing online contact with an ex-partner through remaining Facebook friends and/or engaging in surveillance of the ex-partner's Facebook page inhibited postbreakup adjustment and growth above and beyond offline contact. Analysis of the data provided by 464 participants revealed that Facebook surveillance was associated with greater current distress over the breakup, more negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for the ex-partner, and lower personal growth. Participants who remained Facebook friends with the ex-partner, relative to those who did not remain Facebook friends, reported less negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for the former partner, but lower personal growth. All of these results emerged after controlling for offline contact, personality traits, and characteristics of the former relationship and breakup that tend to predict postbreakup adjustment. Overall, these findings suggest that exposure to an ex-partner through Facebook may obstruct the process of healing and moving on from a past relationship.
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Facebook Surveillance of Former Romantic Partners:
Associations with PostBreakup Recovery
and Personal Growth
Tara C. Marshall, Ph.D.
Previous research has found that continuing offline contact with an ex-romantic partner following a breakup
may disrupt emotional recovery. The present study examined whether continuing online contact with an ex-
partner through remaining Facebook friends and/or engaging in surveillance of the ex-partner’s Facebook page
inhibited postbreakup adjustment and growth above and beyond offline contact. Analysis of the data provided
by 464 participants revealed that Facebook surveillance was associated with greater current distress over the
breakup, more negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for the ex-partner, and lower personal growth.
Participants who remained Facebook friends with the ex-partner, relative to those who did not remain Facebook
friends, reported less negative feelings, sexual desire, and longing for the former partner, but lower personal
growth. All of these results emerged after controlling for offline contact, personality traits, and characteristics of
the former relationship and breakup that tend to predict postbreakup adjustment. Overall, these findings
suggest that exposure to an ex-partner through Facebook may obstruct the process of healing and moving on
from a past relationship.
With more than 900 million active users, Facebook is
currently the world’s most popular social networking
website. The two most cited reasons for using Facebook are to
keep in touch with others and to surreptitiously monitor their
Not only do people use Facebook to monitor the
activities of current romantic partners,
but as many as one-
third use Facebook to keep tabs on former romantic partners.
While Facebook surveillance of ex-partners has been linked to
negative outcomes such as online and offline relational in-
the potential for Facebook contact and surveillance
to disrupt emotional recovery and growth following a
breakup has received little research attention. The current
study sought to fill this research gap by examining whether
remaining Facebook friends with a former partner and
checking his or her Facebook profile is associated with con-
tinuing breakup-related distress, negative feelings, desire for
the ex-partner, and inhibited personal growth.
Facebook surveillance of former romantic partners
Many of the features that make Facebook attractive to its
users—easy, free, and anonymous access to information
about others—can also facilitate online monitoring behavior.
Excessively checking others’ Facebook profiles has been
variously referred to as interpersonal electronic surveillance,
Facebook surveillance,
or, more colloquially, as ‘‘Facebook
stalking.’’ In particular, people may use Facebook to keep
tabs on an ex-partner’s current activities by checking his or
her status updates, wall posts, comments, and photos; even if
one is no longer Facebook friends with an ex-partner, publicly
available information—such as a profile photo and list of
friends—can still provide a rough approximation of the ex-
partner’s ongoing activities. Recent estimates have suggested
that one-half to two-thirds of people have made contact with
an ex-partner through Facebook,
and that over half admit
to having looked through an ex-partner’s photos to find
pictures of an ex-partner with a new romantic partner.
only is Facebook surveillance of ex-partners relatively com-
mon, then, but people who engage in it tend to perceive it as
Other research suggests, however, that Facebook may
facilitate behaviors associated with obsessive relational
intrusion—the unwanted pursuit of an intimate relationship,
particularly with an ex-romantic partner.
Although Face-
book surveillance falls on the mild end of the spectrum of
relational intrusion,
research has found that monitoring an
ex-partner’s Facebook photos and other forms of covert
Department of Psychology, School of Social Sciences, Brunel University, Uxbridge, United Kingdom.
Volume 15, Number 10, 2012
ªMary Ann Liebert, Inc.
DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0125
provocation (such as writing a status update to make an ex-
partner jealous) is associated with an increased likelihood of
engaging in offline obsessive relational intrusion (e.g.,
showing up at the ex-partner’s classroom or workplace).
Even for individuals who do not engage in relational intru-
sion, monitoring an ex-partner’s online behavior may in-
crease distress over the breakup and prolong pining for the
former partner. For example, looking at an ex-partner’s
Facebook photos may renew desire for the former partner,
or it may be upsetting to discover through Facebook that an
ex-partner is involved in a new relationship.
The present study examined whether online exposure to a
former romantic partner contributed to breakup recovery
and growth above and beyond offline exposure. Previous
research has established that offline contact is associated with
poorer postbreakup functioning; for example, almost half of
university students who have experienced a breakup con-
tinue to see or talk with their former partner,
even though
this contact is associated with greater sadness and love for the
From the perspective of social network analy-
maintaining offline contact with an ex-partner may
preserve a strong-tie contact—frequent, reciprocal, and close
contact—that ultimately inhibits breakup recovery. On the
other hand, remaining Facebook friends with an ex-partner
and/or engaging in surveillance of his or her Facebook page
may maintain a weak-tie contact—infrequent, nonreciprocal,
and casual contact. Weak ties can provide access to infor-
mation that may not be obtained through strong ties,
as information obtained through Facebook about the ex-
partner’s current activities. Such weak-tie contact may
therefore sustain exposure to the ex-partner even in the ab-
sence of offline contact, potentially prolonging distress and
longing for the former partner. The purpose of the present
study was to examine whether weak-tie contact through
Facebook sufficiently contributed to postbreakup functioning
beyond strong-tie contact. This study also examined whether
online contact was negatively related to breakup recovery
and growth over and above certain personality traits (self-
esteem, attachment style) and characteristics of the former
relationship and breakup (e.g., feelings for the partner before
the breakup, time since the breakup occurred) that consis-
tently predict postbreakup adjustment.
The following
hypotheses were tested:
Hypothesis 1: People who remain Facebook friends with an
ex-partner will experience poorer breakup adjustment and
growth relative to those whodo not remain Facebook friends.
Hypothesis 2: Facebook surveillance of an ex-partner will be
negatively related to breakup adjustment and growth.
Four hundred and sixty-four participants (84 percent fe-
male; M
=21.36, SD =5.49) were recruited by posting links
to an online survey on several psychology survey-hosting
websites (Social Psychology Network Online Social Psychol-
ogy Studies, Psychological Research on the Net, and the in-
tranet at the author’s university). Eighty-seven percent were
American, 7 percent were European, 2 percent were Cana-
dian, 2 percent were Latin American, and the remainder were
an international mix. Sixty percent of participants were cur-
rently working toward an undergraduate degree, 8 percent
had completed an undergraduate or higher degree, and the
remaining 33 percent had completed high school or A-levels.
Forty-eight percent of participants were currently single; of
those involved in a romantic relationship, 71 percent were
exclusively dating their current partner, 8 percent were co-
habitating, 8 percent were married, 7 percent were engaged,
and 7 percent were nonexclusively dating. Current relation-
ship status was included in the following analyses as an ef-
fect-coded variable (1 =currently involved, -1=single).
Procedure and Materials
It was stated at the beginning of the survey that partici-
pants must have a Facebook account and have experienced at
least one relationship breakup with someone who also has a
Facebook account to be included in the study. Several ques-
tions at the end of the survey addressed demographic vari-
ables and current relationship status. Cronbach’s alpha
coefficients for the following scales are reported in Table 1.
Personality variables. Self-esteem was measured with
the 10-item Rosenberg Self-Esteem Inventory.
The Experi-
ences in Close Relationships-Revised scale
consists of 18
items that measure attachment anxiety and 18 items that
measure attachment avoidance. Responses on both scales
were measured with a 5-point Likert scale anchored with
Strongly Disagree (1) and Strongly Agree (5).
Characteristics of the former relationship and break-
up. Participants were asked to recall a distressing romantic
breakup with someone whom they knew had a Facebook
account. They indicated the status of the relationship before
the breakup (nonexclusive dating, exclusive dating, cohabi-
tating, engaged, or married), the length of the relationship,
and how much time had passed since the breakup occurred.
To assess feelings for the ex-partner right before the breakup,
participants completed the six-item short-form of the
Table 1. Means, Standard Deviations,
and Cronbach’s aCoefficients
Age 21.36 5.49
Self-esteem 38.86 8.14 0.91
Anxiety 48.28 14.59 0.92
Avoidance 41.09 13.25 0.92
Relationship length (weeks) 85.84 110.14
Feelings before breakup 28.11 7.63 0.87
Breakup distress 51.21 17.53 0.95
Time since breakup (weeks) 85.58 113.70
Minutes per day
on Facebook
87.46 131.69
Number of
Facebook friends
561.34 701.63
Facebook surveillance 6.29 4.04 0.71
Current distress 13.89 6.65 0.88
Negative feelings
for ex-partner
17.77 8.92 0.91
Desire for ex-partner 6.27 3.85 0.90
Longing for ex-partner 13.84 8.09 0.94
Personal growth 67.48 22.40 0.96
Perceived Relationship Quality Components Inventory,
which assesses satisfaction, intimacy, trust, commitment,
passion, and love. Two additional items were included that
measured the degree of emotional involvement and sexual
desire felt for the partner right before the breakup. Participants
then indicated which partner initiated the breakup (‘‘I did,’
‘‘My partner did,’’ or ‘‘We both did’’). In the following analyses,
initiator of the breakup was included as an effect-coded variable
(1 =partner initiated, -1=I initiated/we both initiated). Next,
they wrote a description of the circumstances surrounding the
end of the relationship, and completed the 16-item Breakup
Distress Scale.
The instructions of this scale were modified to
ask participants to recall the emotional distress they experi-
enced immediately after the breakup occurred. Responses to
this scale and to the measure of feelings for the partner before
the breakup were rated on a 5-point Likert scale anchored with
Notatall(1), A moderate amount (3), and A great deal (5).
Offline and online contact with the ex-partner. Participants
were asked if they currently had offline contact with the ex-
partner and were Facebook friends with the ex-partner. These
two variables were effect coded (1 =Yes, -1=No). Facebook
surveillance was assessed with two items that were equally
applicable to people who were currently Facebook friends
with the ex-partner and those who were not: ‘‘How often do
you look at your ex-partner’s Facebook page?’’ and ‘‘How
often do you look at your ex-partner’s list of Facebook
friends?’’ These items were rated on a 9-point scale ranging
from Never (1) to Several times a day (9). Participants were also
asked how many Facebook friends they had and how much
time in minutes they spent on Facebook on a typical day.
Breakup adjustment and growth. Current distress over
the breakup was assessed with six items (e.g., ‘‘How much
distress do you currently feel concerning the breakup?’’ and
‘‘How heartbroken are you when you think about the break-
up?’’). Participants indicated the extent of their negative
feelings toward the ex-partner by rating how much anger,
disappointment, confusion, hate, betrayal, hurt, frustration,
and sadness they currently felt (selected in part from other
). Sexual desire for the ex-partner included items
measuring lust, sexual arousal, and desire. All of the items
measuring current distress, negative feelings, and sexual de-
sire were rated on a 5-point Likert scale anchored with Not at
all (1), A moderate amount (3), and A great deal (5). Longing for
the ex-partner was assessed with four items
(e.g., ‘‘I am still
in love with my ex-partner’’) combined with three additional
(e.g., ‘‘Everything seems to remind me of my ex-
partner’’). These items were rated on a 5-point Likert scale
ranging from Strongly Disagree (1) to Strongly Agree (5). Finally,
personal growth was measured by modifying the instructions
of the 21-item Post-traumatic Growth Inventory
to ask
participants how much life change they had experienced in
different areas as a result of their breakup (e.g., ‘‘I developed
new interests’’). These items were rated with a 5-point Likert
scale anchored with Not at all (1) and A great deal (5).
Descriptive statistics
Means and standard deviations are reported in Table 1,
and Pearson’s correlations in Table 2. Additional analyses
revealed that 82 percent of participants had been exclusively
dating their former partner before the breakup, 38 percent
indicated that their partner had initiated the breakup, and 44
percent indicated that they continued to have some offline
contact with the ex-partner. Of the latter participants, 73
percent described themselves as close or casual friends with
the ex-partner, suggesting a strong-tie contact. Fifty-seven
percent of all participants reported that they were still Face-
book friends with the ex-partner; of these participants, over
90 percent indicated that the ex-partner’s Facebook wall,
photo albums, profile photo, status updates, and list of
friends were visible to them. Forty-six percent of participants
who were still Facebook friends with the ex-partner indicated
that they exchanged Facebook messages and comments with
this former partner (81 percent of whom also maintained
offline contact); of the 54 percent who remained Facebook
friends with the ex-partner, but did not exchange any
Facebook-mediated communication, 53 percent did not
maintain offline contact, suggesting a weak-tie contact. Of the
people who were not Facebook friends with the ex-partner,
25 percent reported that they had defriended the ex-partner,
12 percent reported that the ex-partner had defriended them,
and 6 percent reported that they had never been Facebook
friends with the ex-partner at any point in time. Less than
50 percent of these participants had access to their ex-partner’s
Facebook wall, photo albums, and status updates, but
86 percent could see their ex-partner’s profile photo, and
72 percent could see their ex-partner’s list of friends. That the
measure of Facebook surveillance was based on the fre-
quency of checking the ex-partner’s Facebook page (which
includes the profile photo) and friends list is therefore con-
sistent with the visibility of these elements even for those
participants who were not currently Facebook friends with
the ex-partner.
Regression analyses
Table 3 reports the results of a series of hierarchical re-
gression analyses that tested the predictors of current distress,
negative feelings, sexual desire, longing for the ex-partner,
and personal growth. For each analysis, the demographic
and personality variables (age, sex, anxiety, avoidance, self-
esteem), characteristics of the former relationship and
breakup (length of the past relationship, feelings before the
breakup, initiator status, breakup distress, length of time
since the breakup, and current involvement), indices of
Facebook usage (number of Facebook friends, average time
per day in minutes spent on Facebook), and offline contact
with the ex-partner were entered in Step 1. Average time per
day spent on Facebook did not significantly contribute to any
of the models, and was therefore removed. The key Facebook
variables—whether participants were currently Facebook
friends with the ex-partner and Facebook surveillance—were
added in Step 2.
As seen in Table 3, many of the personality traits and
characteristics of the past relationship and breakup entered at
Step 1 significantly contributed to variance in the dependent
variables. Additionally, offline contact was positively asso-
ciated with current distress, desire, and longing for the ex-
partner. More pivotal to the present study, the two Facebook
variables entered at Step 2 significantly contributed to vari-
ance in the dependent variables over and above the
Table 2. Pearson’s Correlations
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20
1. Sex 1.00
2. Age -0.05 1.00
3. Self-esteem -0.01 0.11* 1.00
4. Anxiety 0.01 0.02 -0.48 1.00
5. Avoidance -0.01 0.09
-0.32 0.43 1.00
6. Rel. length -0.08
0.42 0.06 0.02 0.01 1.00
7. Feelings before 0.04 -0.09
-0.01 0.15 -0.03 -0.18 1.00
8. Break. distress 0.01 -0.05 -0.21 0.35 0.03 0.08 0.48 1.00
9. Initiator status 0.08 -0.01 -0.17 0.12* -0.05 -0.10* 0.26 0.38 1.00
10. Time since -0.03 0.34 0.10* -0.10* -0.01 0.14 -0.02 0.02 0.04 1.00
11. Involved -0.03 -0.01 0.16 -0.26 -0.21 -0.02 -0.15 -0.01 -0.01 0.28 1.00
12. Num. friends -0.01 -0.13 0.02 -0.15 -0.01 0.04 -0.02 -0.05 -0.06 -0.06 0.04 1.00
13. Offline contact 0.03 -0.11* -0.08 0.07 0.05 0.04 0.07 -0.01 -0.05 -0.10* -0.08 0.01 1.00
14. Friends with ex 0.08
-0.21 -0.08
0.07 -0.09* 0.06 -0.03 -0.01 -0.05 -0.01 0.13 0.45 1.00
15. Surveillance 0.05 -0.07 -0.22 0.18 0.05 0.08
0.18 0.23 0.06 -0.20 -0.18 0.03 0.35 0.35 1.00
16. Current distress 0.10* -0.05 -0.22 0.29 0.11* 0.01 0.41 0.36 0.12* -0.15 -0.33 -0.02 0.26 0.20 0.56 1.00
17. Neg. feelings 0.01 0.09* -0.25 0.35 0.13 0.15 0.27 0.48 0.12 -0.20 -0.23 -0.07 0.02 -0.10* 0.28 0.51 1.00
18. Desire for ex 0.17 -0.06 -0.15 0.23 0.08
0.01 0.36 0.29 0.04 -0.14 -0.26 -0.04 0.25 0.16 0.50 0.69 0.43 1.00
19. Longing for ex 0.06 -0.04 -0.25 0.31 0.08
0.04 0.39 0.43 0.11* -0.16 -0.26 -0.06 0.26 0.16 0.60 0.84 0.58 0.75 1.00
20. Per. Growth -0.08
0.02 0.19 -0.03 -0.23 0.11* 0.08 0.29 0.01 0.02 0.19 0.03 -0.13 -0.19 -0.15 -0.22 .06 -0.08 -0.07 1.00
p<0.10, *p<0.05. Bolded figures were significant at p<0.01.
Rel. length, relationship length; break. distress, breakup distress; time since, time since the breakup in weeks; involved, currently involved in a relationship; num. friends, number of Facebook friends;
friends with ex, currently Facebook friends with ex-partner; surveillance, Facebook surveillance; neg. feelings, negative feelings for the ex-partner; per. growth, personal growth.
predictors entered at Step 1. Contrary to Hypothesis 1, re-
maining Facebook friends with the ex-partner was negatively
associated with negative feelings, desire, and longing for the
ex-partner. In support of Hypothesis 1, however, remaining
Facebook friends was associated with lower personal growth.
Consistent with Hypothesis 2, Facebook surveillance was
positively related to current distress, negative feelings, desire,
and longing for the ex-partner, and negatively related to
personal growth.
Taken together, these findings suggest that continued on-
line exposure to an ex-romantic partner may inhibit post-
breakup recovery and growth, even after accounting for
the contribution of offline exposure and well-established
personality and relational predictors. Notably, frequent
monitoring of an ex-partner’s Facebook page and list of
friends, even when one was not a Facebook friend of the
ex-partner, was associated with greater current distress over
the breakup, negative feelings, sexual desire, longing for the
ex-partner, and lower personal growth. These findings mir-
rored the correlates of offline contact, which was associated
with greater current distress, sexual desire, and longing for
the ex-partner, consistent with previous research.
surveillance, therefore, accounted for aspects of postbreakup
adjustment—negative feelings toward the ex-partner and
lower personal growth—that offline contact did not. Im-
portantly, these findings suggest that weak-tie contact with
an ex-partner through Facebook contributed to poorer post-
breakup functioning over and above strong-tie contact.
Consistent with the view that weak-tie contact can supply
information beyond strong-tie contact,
Facebook may fur-
nish information about an ex-partner that only intensifies
heartbreak, such as news that the former partner is involved
in a new relationship.
Contrary to expectations, people who remained Facebook
friends with an ex-partner were lower in negative feelings,
sexual desire, and longing for the former partner than people
who were not Facebook friends. Although it seems likely that
people who remained Facebook friends may have had
weaker feelings for their partner before the breakup or ex-
perienced a more amicable split than people who had de-
friended the ex-partner, remaining Facebook friends was not
significantly correlated with previous feelings for the ex-
partner or breakup distress. An alternative possibility is that
unbidden exposure to the potentially banal status updates,
comments, and photos of an ex-partner through remaining
Facebook friends may have decreased any residual attraction
to the ex-partner. Former partners with whom we are no
longer in contact, by contrast, may remain shrouded in an
alluring mystique, suggesting that remaining Facebook
friends with an ex-partner may actually help rather than
harm one’s postbreakup recovery.
Even so, people who remained Facebook friends were
lower in personal growth than were those who had de-
friended the ex-partner, suggesting that even weak-tie contact
with an ex-partner through remaining Facebook friends
might disrupt the process of moving on. Although one might
expect that the lower negativity, sexual desire, and longing
for the ex-partner reported by participants who remained
Facebook friends would be accompanied by greater, not les-
ser, personal growth, the former variables were not signifi-
cantly correlated with personal growth. This lack of
association is consistent with research that has found weak or
nonsignificant relationships between indices of adjustment
and personal growth following a traumatic event,
gesting that recovery and growth may be relatively inde-
pendent processes. Indeed, healing from a relationship loss
entails a process of recovering from negative emotions and
detaching from the former partner, but also of developing a
meaning-making narrative that enables personal growth.
Table 3. Standardized Regression Coefficients
for ex-partner
for ex-partner
Step 1
Sex 0.03 0.02 0.14** 0.01 -0.02
Age 0.12* 0.13* 0.06 0.10* -0.01
Self-esteem -0.10* -0.13* -0.07 -0.13** 0.19**
Anxiety 0.09
0.08 0.06 0.10
Avoidance -0.02 -0.02 0.01 -0.07 -0.20***
Relationship length (weeks) -0.04 0.13* -0.01 -0.01 0.08
Feelings before breakup 0.30*** 0.06 0.27*** 0.21*** -0.10
Breakup distress 0.22** 0.40*** 0.16** 0.32*** 0.36***
Initiator status -0.07 -0.03 -0.13** -0.09
Time since breakup (weeks) -0.12** -0.22*** -0.12* -0.14** -0.07
Currently involved -0.22*** -0.12* -0.20*** -0.20*** 0.15**
Number Facebook friends 0.08* 0.01 0.03 0.05 -0.02
Offline contact 0.21*** -0.04 0.18*** 0.19*** -0.06
0.44*** 0.38*** 0.34*** 0.43*** 0.21***
Step 2
Facebook friends with ex -0.05 -0.11* -0.10* -0.10* -0.12*
Facebook Surveillance 0.39*** 0.16** 0.36*** 0.47*** -0.12*
0.54*** 0.40*** 0.42*** 0.58*** 0.24***
60.10*** 0.02** 0.08*** 0.15*** 0.03**
p<0.10, *p<0.05, **p<0.01, ***p<0.001.
Thus, while remaining Facebook friends may benefit the
breakup recovery process by mitigating negative emotions,
desire, and longing for the ex-partner, it may simultaneously
impede the construction of a personal growth-enhancing
The most notable limitation of this study is that the cor-
relational design did not allow conclusions to be drawn about
casual direction. Although these results suggested that offline
contact and Facebook surveillance lead to poorer postbreak-
up adjustment and lower personal growth, it is just as plau-
sible that people who were hung up on an ex-partner were
more likely to seek them out in person and engage in greater
Facebook surveillance, which in turn sustained the pining for
the former partner. Likewise, people who stagnated after a
breakup rather than experienced personal growth may have
been more likely to retain the ex-partner as a Facebook friend.
An experiment that compares participants who are encour-
aged not to check their ex-partner’s Facebook page for a pe-
riod of time with other participants who may check freely
could shed light on whether Facebook surveillance is causally
related to poorer postbreakup adjustment and growth. Fur-
thermore, while it was beyond the scope of the current article
to examine the motives behind remaining Facebook friends
with an ex-partner and engaging in Facebook surveillance,
these motives could be profitably explored in future research.
For example, people who feel betrayed by an ex-partner tend
to experience heightened breakup distress,
and the current
findings linked breakup distress with a greater likelihood of
engaging in Facebook surveillance (see Table 2). Perhaps,
then, people are more likely to engage in Facebook surveil-
lance if a former partner has been unfaithful.
In spite of the need for further research, the take-home
message from the present study is that keeping tabs on an ex-
partner through Facebook is associated with poorer emotional
recovery and personal growth following a breakup. Therefore,
avoiding exposure to an ex-partner, both offline and online,
may be the best remedy for healing a broken heart.
Author Disclosure Statement
No competing financial interests exist.
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Address correspondence to:
Dr. Tara C. Marshall
Department of Psychology
School of Social Sciences
Brunel University
Uxbridge UB8 3PH
United Kingdom
... There may be opposition to these practices, but such actions can be excused by or invisible to users. Indeed, social media 'stalking' (see Lyndon et al., 2011;Marshall 2012), including of a potential, current, or former intimate partner, is often said to be frequent and motivated by curiosity and mostly harmless. The prevalence of social media stalking is evident in the term's adoption in modern vernacular. ...
... Tokunaga [29] cites romantic couples examining each other's profiles and behaviors on Social Network Systems as an example of interpersonal electronic surveillance. Studies on this group examine questions such as whether the use of Social Network Systems causes envy or increases happiness [30], if monitoring in a romantic relationship aids breakup recovery [31], the link between attachment type and surveillance [32], [33], and so on. ...
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Cyberpsychology is the study of the psychological effects of technology on human behavior. This relatively new field has gained popularity in recent years due to the rapid advancement of technology and the increasing reliance on the internet for communication and socialization. Behavioral science has shown that social networking can positively and negatively affect individuals and society. On the positive side, social networking allows people to connect and communicate with others in ways that were previously impossible, creating new opportunities for socializing, networking, and sharing information and ideas. It can also provide a sense of community, support, and belonging for those who may feel isolated or marginalized in their offline lives. However, social networking platforms have also been linked to negative psychological outcomes such as excessive use leading to addictive behavior and cyberbullying. This paper also discusses the concept of nudging in the digital space and its relevance to social networking services.
... Many participants that withdrew or engaged in aggressive behavior post-dissolution were experiencing distress. Withdrawing may be a productive method of coping given that contact with ex-partners in the wake of a breakup is associated with ongoing distress and less emotional recovery (Sbarra & Emery, 2005), as is surveillance of ex-partners on social media (Marshall, 2012). Thus, it is possible that withdrawal may accelerate resurrection processes. ...
Social media users post an endless stream of life updates, commentary, and other content. This online self-presentation constitutes a narrative that can be examined as a shared account. In this study, we tested the applicability of Duck’s model of relational dissolution (Duck, 1982; Rollie & Duck, 2006) to participants’ personal and public accounts of their romantic breakups on social networking sites (also referred to as social network sites). We adopted mixed methods (content analysis, survey, and interview) to examine emerging adults’ ( N = 97) account-making during romantic relationship dissolution and the role of social media, specifically Facebook, in the process. Over 3500 posts and comments from before and after users’ breakups were quantitatively and qualitatively content analyzed. Synthesizing these three data sources revealed patterns regarding users’ selective self-presentation in masspersonal channels. Their dissolution accounts were shaped by perceptions of Facebook’s social affordances, such as the visibility and persistence of posts, comments, and relational artifacts; social feedback (e.g., comments and “likes” from the online social network, usually for social support); conversational control (e.g., blocking and defriending); and network association, which created a diverse imagined audience and context collapse. Findings suggest that some of Duck’s relational dissolution model manifests on social media, particularly social, gravedressing, and resurrection processes. Users consider and capitalize on perceived affordances of computer-mediated communication channels to construct, curate, or avoid public accounts of their breakups. Our study also provides a methodological framework for investigating user experiences and selective self-presentation on social media over time synthesizing quantitative and qualitative methods.
Bu çalışma, romantik ilişkisi olan üniversite öğrencilerinin romantik ilişkilerini sosyal ağ siteleri aracılığıyla nasıl deneyimlediklerine ve kullanıcı davranışlarını nasıl algıladıklarına odaklanmıştır. Türkiye’de yürütülen çalışmalarda sosyal ağ sitesi kullanımının romantik ilişkileri deneyimleme şeklini nasıl etkilediğine yönelik nitel çalışmaların bulunmaması bu araştırmanın çıkış noktasıdır. Çalışma, bir devlet üniversitesinin lisans bölümlerinde öğrenim gören ve romantik ilişkisi bulunan 20-28 yaş arasındaki 12 (6 kız, 6 erkek) katılımcıyla gerçekleştirilmiştir. Bu fenomenolojik araştırmada, yarı yapılandırılmış görüşme formuyla elde edilen bulgular tematik analiz yöntemiyle analiz edilmiştir. Elde edilen bulgular sosyal ağ sitelerinin kullanım şeklinin romantik kıskançlığı tetiklediğini göstermektedir. Sosyal ağ sitelerinin potansiyel eş hakkında bilgi toplamak için önemli bir kaynak olduğu aynı zamanda diğer kullanıcılardan gelen çeşitli beğeni, mesaj, yorum ve isteklerin romantik ilişkiyi tehdit eden unsurlar olarak algılandığı katılımcılar tarafından ifade edilmiştir. Katılımcıların romantik ilişkilerine yönelik tehdit olarak algıladıkları davranışları önlemek amacıyla; romantik ilişkilerini görünürlüğünü ve bilinirliğini arttırmaya yönelik ortak hesap açma ve ilişki durumunu belirten çeşitli paylaşımlar yaptıkları belirlenmiştir. Ayrıca sosyal ağ sitesi kullanım sıklığı ve kullanım şeklinin romantik kıskançlığı tetiklediği ve bunun bir sonucu olarak katılımcıların romantik eşlerini izleme davranışını sergiledikleri belirlenmiştir. Elde edilen bulgular ve sonuçların bundan sonraki çalışmalara kaynaklık edeceği düşünülmektedir.
Research on the impact of ex‐romantic partners on current romantic relationships is mainly focused on negative aspects. Here instead we focus on the potential positive influence of reflecting on nostalgic memories of one's ex‐partner. In three studies, we found that reflecting on nostalgic memories of one's ex‐partner increased the perception of current relationship quality (Studies 1– 3) and approach motivation towards the current relationship (Study 3), compared to a control condition. We also tested a potential underlying mechanism—perception of self‐growth. We found that perception of self‐growth mediated the positive effects of reflecting on nostalgic memories about an ex‐partner on perceived current relationship quality (Studies 2 and 3) and approach motivation in the current relationship (Study 3). Implications for research and therapy are discussed.
The study queried whether the relational characteristics that influence individuals to remain face-to-face friends with former romantic partners following a break up also impact the decisions to remain Facebook “friends” with former romantic partners. The sample included over 300 young adults who met two criteria: They maintained an active Facebook account and reported a pre-marital, romantic break-up. The results revealed that the variables that impact post-dissolution friendship decisions of former romantic partners in the face-to-face context (quantity of relational investments, relational satisfaction, and relational disengagement strategies) do not impact former romantic partners' decisions to maintain or dissolve Facebook friendships. These results provide evidence that romantic partners may experience different relational motivations and dynamics in online versus off-line venues.
With the increased popularity of social media, social networking sites (SNSs) have received the attention of many scholars. In particular, researchers have focused on the impact of SNSs on interpersonal relationships. Accordingly, this chapter provides an overview of the extant literature concerning associations between the use of SNSs and romantic relationships. It provides empirical evidence on how social networking behaviors are influenced by adult attachment styles, and how social networking influences relationship constructs such as satisfaction, commitment, jealousy, and relationship dissolution. Furthermore, it presents previous research that emphasizes gender as a moderator in these relations. This chapter overall contributes to researchers and professionals in providing information on online social networking and emphasizing key romantic relationship constructs related to the use of SNSs. It also provides suggestions for future research.
Cyber psychological abuse and social media surveillance of ex-partners are relatively common virtual forms of behavior linked with intimate partner violence (Pineda, Galán, Martínez-Martínez, Campagne, & Piqueras, 2021) as well as on-going and dangerous intimate partner stalking (Logan & Langhinrichsen-Rohling, 2021). While both forms of behavior are concerning, especially after the dissolution of a romantic relationship, transdiagnostic shared and unique predictors of each are relatively unknown. In the current study, we examined the associations between intolerance of uncertainty and emotion dysregulation and the perpetration of post-breakup cyber psychological abuse and social media surveillance. We asked college students ( n = 284) to report on their intolerance of uncertainty, emotion dysregulation difficulties (particularly difficulties engaging in goal directed behavior, impulse control difficulties, and lack of emotional clarity), and behaviors towards their ex-partner associated with the perpetration of cyber psychological abuse and social media surveillance. Participants reported engaging in an average of 2.4 ( SD = 2.17) post-breakup behaviors associated with cyber psychological abuse and 4.47 ( SD = 3.60) different acts of social media surveillance. Mediation models supported the premise that intolerance of uncertainty is predictive of emotion dysregulation, which, in turn, mediated the association between intolerance of uncertainty and both cyber psychological abuse and social media surveillance. Subscale analyses specifically highlighted difficulties engaging in goal-directed behavior as an important mediator of both behaviors. Taken together, this suggests that intolerance of uncertainty and poor emotion regulation after a relationship breakup are potential drivers of unhealthy ex-partner focused behaviors on social media and other electronic mediums of communication.
A systematic review of literature investigating cyberstalking offending and victimization was conducted, considering multiple key words and phrases used to label the behavior: cyberstalking, cyber dating abuse, cybervictimization, Internet, interpersonal electronic surveillance, and victimization. The following electronic databases, with the indication of peer-reviewed journal articles as a requirement, were searched: Academic Search Complete, Criminal Justice Database (ProQuest), Google, JSTOR and PsychInfo. After sorting through the studies using the inclusion and exclusion criteria, 31 studies remained for review. Correlates of the behaviors were discussed for each categorization, with main themes including negative characteristics of relationship behaviors, and social media and online use as main predictors of victimization and offending. There is a strong need for further research utilizing older age groups and individuals who are married, as well as a need for longitudinal research.
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Digital technologies have become an integrated part of everyday life, and this development has not left relationships untouched. A need exists for theological reflection on the interaction between the dynamic contexts of the digital age and Christian marital relationships. The relational implications of the digital age are quite vast; therefore the focus of the article will be limited to online identity formation as a particular challenge of the digital age. Employing the method of a literature study within the scientific field of practical theology, this article explores the interplay between online identity formation and Christian marriage. It suggests that online identity formation exists around a reciprocal interaction with two prominent qualities of Christian marriages: The expansion of the self and one-ness. When considering the interplay between online identity formation and Christian marriage, awareness can be created regarding the marital implications of spouses’ online engagements, which may enhance contextual pastoral care with a relational focus within the digital age. Contribution: The article contributes to practical theological reflection on challenges posed to Christian marriages by the digital age. It is aimed at stimulating pastoral thinking regarding online identity formation and its adverse effects on so-called one-ness in Christian marriages that can enhance pastoral care with a view on the flourishing of couples in the digital age.
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Facebook has become ubiquitous over the past 5 years, yet few studies have examined its role within romantic relationships. Two studies tested attachment anxiety and avoidance as predictors of Facebook‐related jealousy and surveillance (i.e., checking a romantic partner's Facebook page). Study 1 found that anxiety was positively associated, and avoidance negatively associated, with Facebook jealousy and surveillance. The association of anxiety with Facebook jealousy was mediated in part by lower trust. Study 2 replicated this finding, and daily diary results further showed that over a 1‐week period, anxiety was positively associated, and avoidance negatively associated, with Facebook surveillance. The association of anxiety with greater surveillance was mediated in part by daily experiences of jealousy.
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A model of the processes leading to posttraumatic growth and to life satisfaction following exposure to trauma was tested. Two types of repeated thought, deliberate and intrusive, posttraumatic symptoms, posttraumatic growth, and meaning in life, were assessed as predictors of general life satisfaction. Challenges to core beliefs were shown to be related to both intrusive and deliberate rumination. The two forms of rumination were in turn differentially related to posttraumatic growth and posttraumatic distress. Distress and posttraumatic growth were independently and oppositely related to meaning in life and to life satisfaction. Overall, the best fitting model was supportive of proposed posttraumatic growth models. Additional exploratory analyses examined participant groupings, based of self-reported category of resolution of the traumatic experience, and differences supportive of proposed underlying processes were found. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Conference Paper
Cognitive and electrodermal effects of suppressing thoughts of an old flame were examined in 2 experiments. Participants were asked to think aloud about an old flame-a past close relationship that either was or was not still desired-as their skin conductance level (SCL) was measured. Participants continued to think aloud as they were instructed either not to think about their old flame or to perform a comparison task. Participants were then asked to think about the old flame again. Participants who had suppressed thoughts of a no-longer-desired relationship were inclined to think aloud more about it afterward whereas those who suppressed thoughts of a still-desired relationship did not show such a rebound but evidenced increased SCL.
The topics of stalking and obsessive relationship pursuit rapidly have gained the attention of social scientists, clinicians, and law enforcement professionals alike. This review takes stock of the burgeoning multidisciplinary literature in this area. The development of the concept of stalking and its corresponding literature is charted, delineating and contrasting the clinical/forensic and interactional/relational perspectives. The review and synthesis of current scholarship yields key conclusions regarding the incidence of stalking and obsessive relational intrusion (ORI), the various tactics and motives of stalkers and obsessive pursuers, and the consequences for victims. Further, a comprehensive typology of victim coping responses is presented, along with a sampling of theoretical frameworks designed to help explain perpetration and victimization. Several avenues for future investigation are proposed.
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This study investigated the prevalence and correlates of personal growth and distress following romantic relationship breakups. Causal attributions for why the relationship declined and ended, personality factors, gender, and initiator status were examined as correlates of growth and distress in 92 undergraduates who had experienced a recent romantic relationship breakup. In regard to the prevalence of growth, respondents reported, on average, five types of personal growth they thought might improve their future romantic relationships. Correlates of self–reported growth included causal attributions to environmental factors and the personality factor of Agreeableness. Women reported more growth than did men. Factors related to higher levels of distress included causal attributions to the ex–partner and to environmental factors surrounding the previous relationship. The importance of assessing growth following relationship breakups and of accounting for the environmental context of close relationships is discussed.
The current study used an attachment framework to explore postrelationship rumination and adjustment. Young adults (N= 231) involved in a romantic relationship that (a) was of 3 months duration or longer and (b) ended in the last 12 months participated in the study. The study assessed rumination generally (brooding, regret, and reflection), and specifically concerning the ended relationship (relationship preoccupation and romantic regret). At the general level, brooding and regret were associated with more negative adjustment, whereas reflection was associated with more positive adjustment. At the relationship level, both relationship preoccupation and romantic regret were associated with more negative adjustment. Models tested indicated that rumination largely mediated the association between attachment anxiety and adjustment.
This paper examined the emotional sequelae of nonmarital relationship dissolution among 58 young adults. Participants were recruited while in a serious dating relationship, and when it ended, were signaled randomly with beepers for 28 days to complete an emotions diary. Compared to participants in intact dating relationships, dissolution participants reported more emotional volatility, especially immediately following the breakup. Multilevel growth modeling showed a linear decline in love and curvilinear patterns for sadness, anger, and relief. Contact with a former partner slowed the decline for love and sadness, and attachment style and the impact of the breakup predicted the emotional start-points and rate(s) of change over time. The results are discussed in terms of the functional role of postrelationship emotions as well as the importance of understanding patterns of intraindividual variability and differential predictors of emotional change.
The development of the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory, an instrument for assessing positive outcomes reported by persons who have experienced traumatic events, is described. This 21-item scale includes factors of New Possibilities, Relating to Others, Personal Strength, Spiritual Change, and Appreciation of Life. Women tend to report more benefits than do men, and persons who have experienced traumatic events report more positive change than do persons who have not experienced extraordinary events. The Posttraumatic Growth Inventory is modestly related to optimism and extraversion. The scale appears to have utility in determining how successful individuals, coping with the aftermath of trauma, are in reconstructing or strengthening their perceptions of self, others, and the meaning of events.