ArticlePDF Available

Can You See How Happy We Are? Facebook Images and Relationship Satisfaction

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Love is often thought to involve a merging of identities or a sense that a romantic partner is part of oneself. Couples who report feeling more satisfied with their relationships also feel more interconnected. We hypothesized that Facebook profile photos would provide a novel way to tap into romantic partners’ merged identities. In a cross-sectional study (Study 1), a longitudinal study (Study 2), and a 14-day daily experience study (Study 3), we found that individuals who posted dyadic profile pictures on Facebook reported feeling more satisfied with their relationships and closer to their partners than individuals who did not. We also found that on days when people felt more satisfied in their relationship, they were more likely to share relationship-relevant information on Facebook. This study expands our knowledge of how online behavioral traces give us powerful insight into the satisfaction and closeness of important social bonds.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Article
Can You See How Happy We Are?
Facebook Images and Relationship
Satisfaction
Laura R. Saslow
1
, Amy Muise
2
, Emily A. Impett
2
, and Matt Dubin
3
Abstract
Love is often thought to involve a merging of identities or a sense that a romantic partner is part of oneself. Couples who report
feeling more satisfied with their relationships also feel more interconnected. We hypothesized that Facebook profile photos
would provide a novel way to tap into romantic partners’ merged identities. In a cross-sectional study (Study 1), a longitudinal
study(Study2),anda14-daydailyexperience study (Study 3), we found that individuals who posted dyadic profile pictures
on Facebook reported feeling more satisfied with their relationships and closer to their partners than individuals who did not.
We also found that on days when people felt more satisfied in their relationship, they were more likely to share relationship-
relevant information on Facebook. This study expands our knowledge of how online behavioral traces give us powerful insight
into the satisfaction and closeness of important social bonds.
Keywords
romantic relationships, emotion, Internet/cyberpsychology, well-being, self-presentation
Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each
other but in looking outward together in the same direction.
Antoine de Saint-Exupe´ry
Love is often thought to involve a merging of identities or the
sense that one’s lover is part of oneself. The theory of self-
expansion, which describes this phenomenon, suggests that
greater identity overlap with one’s partner is tied to greater
relationship well-being (Aron & Aron, 1996). Indeed, married
and dating couples who are more interconnected report feeling
more satisfied with their romantic relationships (e.g., Agnew,
Van Lange, Rusbult, & Langston, 1998; Aron, Aron, &
Smollan, 1992). This interconnectedness spills into uncon-
scious behavior as well; romantic couples with higher quality
interactions are more likely to use pronouns that represent their
sense of unity or togetherness such as ‘‘we,’’ ‘‘us,’’ and ‘‘our’
(Seider, Hirschberger, Nelson, & Levenson, 2009).
In the present research, we hypothesized that online Face-
book profile photos could serve as a novel and valid way to tap
into romantic partners’ merged identities. We hypothesized
that the more satisfied people felt with their relationships and
the closer they felt to a partner, the more likely they would
be to post dyadic photos of themselves and their partner as their
main Facebook profile photo.
With over 800 million active users, Facebook is a popular
way to connect with others (Facebook, 2012). Previous
research has found that participation in online social networks
builds social capital (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007) and is
used to strengthen offline relationships (Salimkhan, Manago, &
Greenfield, 2010) by enabling users to express affection toward
loved ones (Utz & Beukeboom, 2011). Information shared on
Facebook is associated with feelings of romantic jealousy
(Muise, Christofides, & Desmarais, 2009) and relationship
satisfaction in young dating couples (Papp, Danielewicz, &
Cayemberg, 2012), but no research to date has examined
Facebook behavior in the context of marital relationships or
over the course of time in relationships.
On Facebook, all users choose a photo to represent them-
selves. Because this profile photo is displayed prominently,
Facebook members can see each other’s profile photos without
needing to ‘‘friend’’ each other or otherwise interact. The
photos that people choose to display on Facebook constitute
a type of behavioral residue, ‘‘the physical traces left in the
environment by our everyday actions’’ (Gosling, 2008,
p. 25). Such behavioral residue, including how we decorate our
homes and design our websites, has been linked to psychologi-
cal phenomena such as Big Five traits (Reis & Gosling, 2010).
1
University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA
2
University of Toronto, Mississauga, ON, Canada
3
Claremont Graduate University, Claremont, CA, USA
Corresponding Author:
Laura R. Saslow, University of California, Osher Center, 1545 Divisadero
Street, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA.
Email: saslowL@ocim.ucsf.edu or laura.saslow@gmail.com
Social Psychological and
Personality Science
4(4) 411-418
ªThe Author(s) 2012
Reprints and permission:
sagepub.com/journalsPermissions.nav
DOI: 10.1177/1948550612460059
spps.sagepub.com
Facebook profile images are very public representations of
the self and provide opportunities for self-presentation.
Research has found that people tend to post especially attrac-
tive versions of themselves online (Siibak, 2009; Strano,
2008; Young, 2008). As such, it is possible that people who are
less satisfied in their relationships would post dyadic profile
pictures as a self-presentation strategy to appear happier in
their relationships to other people. Research has also found,
however, that Facebook profiles provide fairly accurate
portrayals (Back et al., 2010; Wilson, Gosling, & Graham,
2012). In one study, strangers’ ratings of an individual’s per-
sonality based solely on their Facebook profile were strongly
correlated with participants’ self-ratings and the ratings of
close others who knew the participants well, but only weakly
correlated with participants’ ideal self-ratings (Back et al.,
2010). In another study, people who were liked on the basis
of a face-to-face interaction were also liked based on their
Facebook profiles, and people used the same criteria
(i.e., social expressiveness and self-disclosure) in both
situations to determine the person’s likability (Weisbuch, Ivce-
vic, & Ambady, 2009). Because Facebook is so popular and has
become integrated into the fabric of many people’s social lives,
it provides an ideal, naturalistic setting to investigate how
people present themselves to others.
Photographs, in particular, have been found to reflect the
state of our relationships and well-being. The intensity of
smiles and warm touch in family photos has been related to the
expression of positive emotions (Oveis, Gruber, Keltner,
Stamper, & Boyce, 2009); positive emotional expressions in
photos predict later marital status and divorce (Harker &
Keltner, 2001; Hertenstein, Hansel, Butts, & Hile, 2009); and
the intensity of undergraduates’ smiles in their Facebook pro-
file photos predicts their personal well-being several years later
(Seder & Oishi, 2011). Taken together, this research suggests
that the profile images that romantic partners choose to display
on Facebook may reflect how individuals feel in their relation-
ships and that people who choose to post photographs with a
romantic partner may be more satisfied with their relationships
and feel closer to their partners than those who do not.
The Current Research
We tested our hypotheses linking relationship satisfaction and
closeness with the decision to display dyadic profile pictures on
Facebook in three studies. Study 1 was a cross-sectional study
in which we assessed whether relationship satisfaction and clo-
seness are associated with the tendency to post profile images
with one’s romantic partner. In Study 2, we measured initial
relationship satisfaction and closeness and then coded partici-
pants’ profile pictures 3 times over a 1-year period. We
hypothesized that greater satisfaction and closeness at baseline
would be associated with the tendency to post dyadic profile
pictures at three time points over the course of a year. In Study
3, we conducted a daily experience study of dating couples to
consider how both partners’ feelings of relationship satisfaction
are associated with posting dyadic profile pictures and sharing
relationship-relevant information on Facebook.
Study 1
In our first study, we used self-report measures to test our
hypothesis that the more satisfied people felt in their romantic
relationship and the closer they felt to their partner, the more
likely they would be to post dyadic profile pictures on
Facebook.
Participants
Participants were 115 individuals living in the United States
recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (44 men, 70
women, 1 of unreported gender; ages 18–73, M¼36.62,
SD ¼11.53; married between less than a year and 39 years,
M¼9.83 years, SD ¼9.40; 87 were European American, 5
were Asian American, 10 were Latino, 9 were African Ameri-
can, and the rest were of another ethnicity; participants were
allowed to choose more than one ethnicity). To be eligible for
the study, participants had to be current Facebook users. Parti-
cipants recruited through this online service are shown to be
more representative of the U.S. population than participants
in typical online samples (Buhrmester, Kwang, & Gosling,
2011). Participants received monetary compensations and were
included in the study if they correctly answered two ‘‘catch’’
items (‘‘Please answer strongly disagree’’; 16 did not answer
correctly) and identified as married and 18 years of age or
older.
Design and Procedure
Profile photos. We asked participants to rate how often over
the past 6 months they had chosen to display, as their main
Facebook profile photo, images that included themselves and
their spouse (1 ¼never,2¼rarely,3¼sometimes,4¼usually,
and 5 ¼always;M¼2.55, SD ¼1.24).
Relationship satisfaction and closeness. We measured relation-
ship satisfaction and closeness with two face-valid items based
on the Perceived Relationship Quality Component Inventory
(Fletcher, Simpson, & Thomas, 2000), rated from 1 (not at all)
to7(extremely) with higher scores representing greater
satisfaction: ‘‘How satisfied/content/happy are you with your
relationship?’’ and ‘‘How intimate/close/connected is your
relationship?’’ As the 2 items were highly correlated
(r¼.93, p< .001) and overlapping in meaning, we averaged
the 2 items into one measure (M¼5.77, SD ¼1.43).
Results
Consistent with our predictions, the more satisfied participants
felt with their marriages and the closer that people felt to their
spouses, the more frequently they reported posting a dyadic
profile picture on Facebook (r¼.21, p¼.028).
1
Gender was
not a significant predictor and did not moderate this effect.
412 Social Psychological and Personality Science 4(4)
Study 2
Study 1 provided initial support for our hypothesis that
relationship satisfaction and closeness relate to how people rep-
resent themselves in photos online. Study 2 extends this finding
in four critical ways. First, Study 1 was limited by an exclusive
reliance on self-report measures. It is possible that happily mar-
ried people may be more likely to misremember that they have
posted dyadic profile pictures on Facebook. Study 2 rectifies this
limitation by including outside observer codes of married part-
ners’ profile pictures. Second, since Study 1 was cross-
sectional, in our second study we recruited married individuals,
assessed their initial feelings of satisfaction and closeness, and
then assessed the content of their profile pictures at three sepa-
rate time points over the course of a year. Third, while our first
study included 1-item indicators of relationship quality, we
improved the measurement of these constructs in Study 2 using
longer, well-validated measures. Finally, by including measures
of personal happiness, personality, and attachment style, we
sought to rule out the possibility that our initial findings could
be accounted for by people’s more general levels of happiness
or personality traits. For example, it may be that individuals who
are higher in Extraversion or who are more securely attached are
more likely to post dyadic pictures and simultaneously more
likely to be happy in their marriage. We hypothesized that peo-
ple higher in satisfaction and closeness at baseline would be
more likely to post dyadic profile pictures over a 1-year period
and that these results would not be due to general levels of
personal happiness or individual differences in personality.
Participants
Participants were 148 individuals living in the United States
recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (38 men, 110
women; ages 19–59, M¼31.85, SD ¼9.24; married between
less than a year and 38 years, M¼6.51 years, SD ¼7.27; 110
were European American, 9 were Asian American, 3 were
Latino, 4 were African American, and the rest were of another
ethnicity; participants were allowed to choose more than one
ethnicity). As in Study 1, participants were all current
Facebook users, received monetary compensation for partici-
pating, and were only included in the study if they answered
two ‘‘catch’’ items correctly (16 did not answer correctly) and
identified themselves as married and 18 years of age or older.
Design and Procedure
Profile photos. With permission given at baseline, we down-
loaded participants’ Facebook profile images at three time
points: baseline (Time 1), 4 months after baseline (Time 2), and
12 months after baseline (Time 3). Across all time periods, a
trained coder rated whether or not a married couple was present
in the photo (1 ¼dyadic photo;0¼nondyadic photo). To
demonstrate the reliability of these codes, five raters coded all
images at baseline (a¼.95). We compared coders’ ratings to
participants’ reports, which were assessed by asking
participants the following at baseline: ‘‘Is your current profile
picture of you and your romantic partner?’’ with either a yes
(1) or no (0). Participants’ reports were associated with the
observer ratings at baseline: w
2
(1) ¼155.73, p< .001. For all
subsequent analyses, we used observer codes. Across each of the
three time points, 23–25%of the photos were coded as dyadic
and 75–77%were coded as nondyadic. Over time, 61%of peo-
ple never posted a dyadic photo, 16%of people posted a dyadic
image once, 14%of people posted a dyadic image twice, and 9%
of people posted a dyadic image at all three time points.
Relationship satisfaction and closeness. At baseline, we
assessed relationship satisfaction and closeness with two sub-
scales from the Perceived Relationship Quality Component
Inventory (Fletcher et al., 2000), rated from 1 (notatall)
to 7 (extremely) with higher scores representing greater qual-
ity (relationship satisfaction, 3 items: a¼.98; M¼5.96,
SD ¼1.39; relationship closeness, 3 items: a¼.92;
M¼5.80, SD ¼1.34). As in Study 1, since the two measures
were highly correlated (r¼.88, p< .001), we averaged the 2
items into one measure (M¼5.88, SD ¼1.32).
Personal happiness. We measured personal happiness with
the Subjective Happiness scale (Lyubomirsky & Lepper,
1999; 4 items), rated on a 7-point scale with higher scores
representing greater happiness (a¼.88; M¼5.16, SD ¼1.23).
Personality. Participants completed the Ten Item Personality
Inventory (TIPI; Gosling, Rentfrow, & Swann, 2003), which
contains 2 items for each of the Big Five personality constructs
of Extraversion (M¼4.14, SD ¼1.60), Openness (M¼5.20,
SD ¼1.10), Conscientiousness (M¼5.34, SD ¼1.22), Neuro-
ticism (M¼3.27, SD ¼1.47), and Agreeableness (M¼5.30,
SD ¼1.10). Items were answered on a scale ranging from 1
(disagree strongly)to7(agree strongly). As reported in Gosl-
ing, Rentfrow, and Swann (2003), the scale is a reliable and
valid measure.
Attachment style. Participants were presented with three
descriptions from Hazan and Shaver (1987), which briefly
describe the prototypical secure, anxious, and avoidant attach-
ment styles. Participants selected the scenario which best
described themselves. We then recoded answers to reflect
secure attachment (70%; coded as a 1) or insecure attachment
(30%; coded as a 0).
Results
We hypothesized that relationship satisfaction and closeness
measured at baseline would predict the tendency to post dyadic
profile pictures over the course of a year. To assess if our contin-
uous measures of relationship satisfaction and closeness pre-
dicted correlated binary responses over time, we used
Generalized Estimating Equations (Zeger & Liang, 1986). We
conducted these analyses using the REPEATED statement in the
GENLIN procedure in SPSS 19. None of the effects interacted
with time; that is, the associations between relationship quality
and the tendency to post dyadic profile images did not differ
Saslow et al. 413
across the three time points in the study. Therefore, we report
results with the main effect of both time and the photo variable
entered into the model.
Consistent with our predictions and the results of Study 1,
the tendency to post dyadic profile pictures was significantly
predicted by relationship satisfaction and closeness (b¼.07,
p¼.002, w
2
¼9.85).
1
See Figures 1 and 2. Gender was not
a significant predictor of the tendency to post dyadic profile
pictures and did not significantly moderate this effect.
Moreover, none of the covariates (happiness, personality, and
attachment style) were significantly associated with the ten-
dency to post a dyadic profile picture (all ps>.15),andthe
results remained significant after controlling for each of these
covariates.
Study 3
Studies 1 and 2 provided support for our hypothesis that indi-
viduals who are more satisfied in their relationship and feel
closer to their romantic partner are more likely to post dyadic
profile pictures on Facebook. Study 3 is a 14-day daily experi-
ence study of dating couples that enabled us to extend these
findings in two critical ways. First, in Studies 1 and 2, we only
had reports from one partner; therefore in Study 3 we consid-
ered whether people’s own feelings of relationship satisfaction
predict whether they post a dyadic profile picture and whether
their partner posts a dyadic profile picture, controlling for their
partner’s own relationship satisfaction. Past research drawing
on interdependence theory has shown that people’s own
expressions of commitment influence how their romantic
partner feels about the relationship (Wieselquist, Rusbult,
Foster, & Agnew, 1999). Based upon this work, we predicted
that people who are more satisfied in their relationship would
be more likely not only to post dyadic profile pictures but to
have partners who are more likely to do so as well. Second,
we also considered whether daily feelings of relationship
satisfaction influence the sharing of relationship-relevant infor-
mation on Facebook. Previous research has shown that on days
when people feel more jealous in their relationships, they spend
more time monitoring their partner’s activities on Facebook
(Marshall, Bejanyan, Di Castra, & Lee, 2012), suggesting that
daily feelings about a relationship can influence Facebook use.
Thus, we tested the prediction that on days when participants
report greater relationship satisfaction, they would be more
likely to post relationship-relevant information on Facebook.
We also tested whether daily feelings of satisfaction would
predict a partner’s tendency to post relationship-relevant
information on Facebook.
Participants
Participants were 108 heterosexual dating couples (N¼216)
recruited from a small university in Ontario, Canada. The par-
ticipants ranged in age from 19 to 31 (M¼21.05, SD ¼.94)
and had been together from 2 to 73 months (M¼73.00,
SD ¼19.74), with 9%of the couples living together. Partici-
pants comprised a diverse range of ethnicities; European
(40%), Asian (20%), Black/African American (8%), Latin
American (5%), Aboriginal (2%), and 25%self-identified as
‘other.’’ To be eligible for the study, participants had to be
current Facebook users.
Procedure
On the first day of the study, participants were asked to
complete a 30-min background survey and to ‘‘friend’’ the
study’s Facebook page. Upon joining the study, participants
consented to allow us to download their Facebook profiles. The
participants were also asked to complete a 10-min online
survey each night for 14 consecutive nights, and to do so inde-
pendently from their partner. To maximize compliance with the
daily part of the protocol, reminder e-mails were sent to the
Figure 1. The relationship between relationship satisfaction at
baseline and dyadic Facebook profile images over 1 year (Study 2).
Error bars represent standard errors of the mean.
Figure 2. The relationship between relationship closeness at baseline
and dyadic Facebook profile images over 1 year (Study 2). Error bars
represent standard errors of the mean.
414 Social Psychological and Personality Science 4(4)
participants who had not completed their daily diaries by 10
p.m. each night. On average, participants completed 12 diaries
across the 14-day study (Range ¼1–14, M¼12.45, SD ¼3.72)
for a total of 2,689 days across participants. Participants were
paid $40 each for taking part in the study.
Background Measures
Profile photos. With permission given at baseline, we down-
loaded participants’ Facebook profile images on the first day of
the study. Two trained coders rated whether or not a couple was
present in the photo (1 ¼dyadic photo;0¼nondyadic photo).
Since both members of the couple participated in the study,
after the ratings were complete, coders were able to verify that
the other person in the photo was in fact the person’s romantic
partner.
Relationship satisfaction. Relationship satisfaction was
assessed with 5 items such as ‘‘I feel satisfied with our relation-
ship’’ (a¼.91; M¼7.77, SD ¼1.16) from Rusbult, Martz, and
Agnew (1998) rated on a 9-point scale from 1 (do not agree)to
9(agree completely).
Satisfaction with life. Satisfaction with life was assessed with 5
items such as ‘‘In most ways my life is close to my ideal’
(a¼.87; M¼5.01, SD ¼1.27) from Diener, Emmons, Larsen,
and Griffin (1985) rated on a 7-point scale from 1 (strongly
agree)to7(strongly disagree).
Personality. As in Study 2, participants completed the TIPI
(Gosling et al., 2003), with measures of Extraversion
(M¼4.76, SD ¼1.48), Openness (M¼5.36, SD ¼1.05), Con-
scientiousness (M¼5.29, SD ¼1.17), Neuroticism (M¼3.30,
SD ¼1.36), and Agreeableness (M¼4.81, SD ¼1.08). Items
were answered on a scale ranging from 1 (disagree strongly)to
7(agree strongly).
Attachment. Attachment was measured using the 12-item
Experiences in Close Relationship–Short Form (Wei, Russell,
Mallinckrodt, & Vogel, 2007). Items assessed attachment anxi-
ety (6 items; a¼.79, M¼3.28, SD ¼1.24; ‘‘I worry romantic
partners won’t care about me as much as I care about them’’)
and attachment avoidance (6 items; a¼.87, M¼1.97,
SD ¼.96; ‘‘I try to avoid getting too close to my partner’’) and
were rated on scale from 1 (disagree strongly)to7(agree
strongly).
Time spent on Facebook. Participants were asked, ‘‘On
average, approximately how many minutes per day do you
spend on Facebook?’’ and responded by entering the number
of minutes (Range ¼0–400, M¼57.56, SD ¼52.77).
Daily Measures
Relationship satisfaction. Participants responded to three items
about how satisfied they felt in their relationship (Rusbult,
Martz, & Agnew, 1998; a¼.93, M¼5.71, SD ¼1.40) on a
7-point scale from 1 (do not agree)to7(agree completely).
Satisfaction with life. Participants rated how happy they were
on a scale from 1 (very unhappy)to6(very happy) with three
aspects of life: yourself, your friends, and your family (a¼.80,
M¼4.87, SD ¼1.15).
Facebook posts. Participants responded to 1 item ‘‘I shared
information about my relationship or my partner on Facebook
today (i.e., posted a status update, wall post, photo comment, or
photos about or with my partner)’’ on a 7-point scale from 1
(not at all)to5(very much).
Time spent on Facebook. Participants reported the number of
minutes they spent on Facebook (Range ¼0–600, M¼32.07,
SD ¼49.08).
Results
The coding of participants’ Facebook profile picture resulted in
high initial agreement between coders (k¼.97). The coders
only disagreed on two of the photos, and after discussion, both
of these photos were considered nondyadic. Consistent with
Study 2, about one quarter (27.5%)oftheparticipantshada
dyadic profile picture, and about three quarters (72.5%) had a
nondyadic profile picture.
To test our first prediction that participants who reported
higher levels of relationship satisfaction would be more likely
to display a dyadic photo on Facebook, we conducted a binary
logistic regression. As expected, participants who reported
higher relationship satisfaction were more likely to post a dya-
dic profile picture (odds ratio [OR] ¼2.32, 95%confidence
interval [CI] [1.59, 3.39], p< .001). That is, for each unit
increase in relationship satisfaction, participants were more
than 2 times as likely to post a dyadic profile picture. This asso-
ciation remained significant after controlling for the amount of
time participants spent on Facebook, their satisfaction with life,
their ratings on the Big Five personality traits, and attachment
anxiety and avoidance. None of these variables significantly
predicted posting a dyadic profile picture. In addition, gender
was not a significant predictor of whether or not a person
posted a dyadic profile picture and did not moderate any of the
effects.
Consistent with our second prediction, participants who
were higher in relationship satisfaction had partners who were
more likely to post a dyadic profile picture on Facebook
(OR ¼1.94, 95%CI [1.37, 2.74], p< .001). For each unit
increase in relationship satisfaction, a person’s partner was
almost 2 times as likely to post a dyadic profile picture on
Facebook. This finding remained significant after controlling
for the partner’s own relationship satisfaction. In addition, the
romantic partner’s relationship satisfaction did not moderate
the association between one’s own relationship satisfaction and
posting a dyadic profile picture.
Our third prediction concerned the association between
daily relationship satisfaction and the tendency to share
relationship-relevant information on Facebook. We analyzed
the data using hierarchical linear modeling (HLM, Version
6.08; Raudenbush, Bryk, Cheong, & Congdon, 2004). We used
Saslow et al. 415
a three-level model to simultaneously control for dependencies
in the same person’s reports across days and dependencies
between partners (Gable & Poore, 2008). Level-1 (i.e., daily)
predictors were centered on each individual’s mean across the
14-day study, which assesses whether day-to-day changes from
a participant’s own mean are associated with changes in the
outcome variable, consequently unconfounding between- and
within-person effects. These results showed that on days when
participants felt more satisfied with their relationship (than they
typically did across the 14-day study), they were more likely to
share relationship-relevant information on Facebook, b¼.03,
t(2281) ¼2.35, p¼.02. This association remained significant
after controlling for time spent on Facebook and daily feelings
of satisfaction with life. In addition, we tested whether a per-
son’s daily relationship satisfaction was associated with their
partner’s tendency to post about their relationship, but this
association was not significant. Finally, posting pictures in gen-
eral was not associated with relationship satisfaction (r¼.012,
p¼.87) and our effects remained significant after controlling
for this factor, suggesting that this association is specific to the
sharing of relationship-relevant information.
Discussion
When people interact with others online, they must choose how
to represent themselves. The current research provides the first
empirical evidence to show that the ways in which people
chose to represent themselves pictorially on Facebook are
related to how happy they are in their relationships and how
close they feel to their romantic partner. We found evidence
through cross-sectional self-report (Study 1), longitudinal
outside-observer coded behavior (Study 2) and dyadic daily
experiences (Study 3) that individuals who are more satisfied
in their relationships are more likely to post images of
themselves and their partner as their main profile photo on
Facebook. In Study 3, we also found that on days when people
are more satisfied with their relationships they are more likely
to share relationship-relevant information on Facebook.
Posting dyadic profile pictures and other relationship-relevant
information on Facebook was not associated with personal
well-being, satisfaction with life, or individual differences in
Big Five personality traits. These results suggest that people
who post dyadic pictures and share relationship-relevant
information tend to be more highly satisfied with their romantic
relationships, as opposed to being happier or more satisfied
with their lives in general.
In addition, we found that people who are more satisfied
in their relationships have partners who are more likely to
post dyadic profile pictures on Facebook. However, our pre-
diction that one partner’s daily feelings of satisfaction
would be associated with the other partner’s tendency to
post relationship-relevant information was not supported.
It is possible that romantic partners are simply more in tune
with each other’s general levels of relationship satisfaction,
as opposed to daily feelings of satisfaction, and therefore
one partner’s day-to-day feelings are not associated with the
other partner’s Facebook use.
The current study provides evidence that dyadic profile
pictures on Facebook are an important marker of interconnect-
edness in a relationship. Interdependence theory posits that
romantic partners who rely on and are influenced by each other
are more likely to depart from their own self interest in order to
pursue goals that strengthen the relationship (Kelley &
Thibaut, 1978; Thibaut & Kelley, 1959). Self-expansion theory
argues that a close relationship involves expanding the self to
include the other (Aron, Aron, Tudor, & Nelson, 1991), and
a greater overlap with one’s partner is associated with higher
relationship quality (Aron & Aron, 1996). Extending this work,
just as the language that couples use (e.g., pronouns such as
‘we’’ and ‘‘us’’) provides an unconscious marker of closeness
(Agnew et al., 1998; Aron et al., 1992), pictorial representa-
tions displayed on social networking sites provide another,
novel marker of the quality of important social bonds.
The current findings support a growing body of research
suggesting that representations on Facebook correspond
closely with offline personality ratings and emotions. For
example, individuals high in narcissism are more likely to
engage in self-promotion on their Facebook profiles; however,
independent raters are able to see through these self-promotion
tactics and correctly judge these users as narcissistic (Buffardi
& Campbell, 2008). Although individuals with low self-esteem
indicate that Facebook is an appealing forum for
self-disclosure, their expressions of low positivity and high
negativity on their Facebook profiles result in people liking
them less than people with high self-esteem (Forest & Wood,
2012). In addition, strangers are accurate in assessing an
individual’s personality based solely on their Facebook profile
(Back et al., 2010).
The current study indicates several directions for future
research. We provide evidence that feelings of relationship
satisfaction are linked to displaying dyadic profile pictures, but
we did not explicitly test a mechanism for this association. As
we suggest above, couples who are more satisfied may choose
to post dyadic profile pictures due to increased feelings of inter-
connectedness or self-other overlap. We believe the reverse
association—that having a dyadic profile picture predicts
greater satisfaction—is less likely, but acknowledge that this
link could be bidirectional. More satisfied couples are more
likely to post dyadic profile pictures; seeing their Facebook
profile may then remind them of their happy relationship and
make them feel more satisfied.
Previous research indicates that, in addition to being associ-
ated with positive relationship outcomes, information posted
on Facebook is associated with jealousy and conflict in rela-
tionships (Marshall et al., 2012; Muise et al., 2009). Given the
widespread use of Facebook and its association with feelings
about a romantic partner, future research could further examine
how romantic couples use Facebook in the context of their
romantic relationships, how they make decisions about what
information to share on Facebook, and the individual and
relational factors associated with the positive and negative
416 Social Psychological and Personality Science 4(4)
consequences of sharing relationship-relevant information on
Facebook. In addition, future research could consider how
sharing relationship-relationship information on Facebook is
associated with other people’s perceptions, such as whether
outside observers can judge a person’s relationship satisfaction
from their Facebook profile alone, and how people perceive
those who disclose information about their romantic relation-
ship on Facebook. In conclusion, our findings demonstrate that
how individuals feel about their romantic partner spills into
their online behavior. Following in the vein of other studies
on behavioral residue (e.g., Gosling, 2008), the current research
suggests that analyzing the content of online behavior will lead
to a richer understanding of social and psychological behavior.
Acknowledgments
We would like to thank David Chen Samantha Chou, Lameese
Eldesouky, Meghan George, Celia Gong, Rata Iwan, Shameel Khan,
and Bonnie Le for help with coding, and Dacher Keltner and members
of the Relationships and Well-Being Lab at the University of Toronto
for helpful comments.
Declaration of Conflicting Interests
The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
Funding
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for
the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This
research was funded by research grants from the University of
Guelph-Humber awarded to Amy Muise and from the Social Sciences
and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) awarded to Emily Impett.
Laura Saslow was supported by a postdoctoral research fellowship
from the Osher Center at the University of California, San Francisco,
and Amy Muise was supported by a SSHRC postdoctoral fellowship.
Note
1. The results hold when we consider relationship satisfaction and
closeness separately.
References
Agnew, C. R., Van Lange, P. A. M., Rusbult, C. E., & Langston, C. A.
(1998). Cognitive interdependence: Commitment and the mental
representation of close relationships. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology,74, 939–954. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.74.4.939
Aron, A., Aron, E. N., & Smollan, D. (1992). Inclusion of other in the
self scale and the structure of interpersonal closeness. Journal of
Personality and Social Psychology,63, 596–612. doi:10.1037/
0022-3514.63.4.596
Aron, A., Aron, E. N., Tudor, M., & Nelson, G. (1991). Close relation-
ships as including other in the self. Journal of Personality and
Social Psychology,60, 241–253. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.60.2.241
Aron, E. N., & Aron, A. (1996). Love and expansion of the self: The
state of the model. Personal Relationships,3, 45–58.
Back, M. D., Stopfer, J. M., Vazire, S., Gaddis, S., Schmukle, S. C.,
Egloff, B., & Gosling, S. D. (2010). Facebook profiles reflect
actual personality not self-idealization. Psychological Science,
21, 372–374.
Buffardi, L. E., & Campbell, W. K. (2008). Narcissism and social net-
working web sites. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin,34,
1303–1314.
Buhrmester, M. D., Kwang, T., & Gosling, S. D. (2011). Amazon’s
Mechanical Turk: A new source of inexpensive, yet high-quality,
data? Perspectives on Psychological Science,6,3.
Diener,E.,Emmons,R.A.,Larsen,R.J.,&Griffin,S.(1985).The
Satisfaction with Life Scale. Journal of Personality Assessment,
49, 71–75.
Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of
Facebook ‘‘friends:’’ Social capital and college students’ use of
online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Com-
munication,12. Retrieved from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol12/
issue4/ellison.html
Facebook. (2012). Press room: Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.
Facebook.com/press/info.php?statistics
Fletcher, G. J. O., Simpson, J. A., & Thomas, G. (2000). The measure-
ment of perceived relationship quality components: A confirma-
tory factor analytic approach. Personality and Social Psychology
Bulletin,26, 340–354.
Forest, A. L., & Wood, J. V. (2012). When social networking is not
working: Individuals with low self-esteem recognize but do not
reap the benefits of self-disclosure on Facebook. Psychological
Science,23, 295–302. doi:10.1177/0956797611429709
Gable, S. L., & Poore, J. (2008). Which thoughts count? Algorithms
for evaluating satisfaction in relationships. Psychological Science,
19, 1030–1036. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9280.2008.02195.x
Gosling, S. D. (2008). Snoop: What your stuff says about you.
New York, NY: Basic books.
Gosling, S. D., Rentfrow, P. J., & Swann, W. B., Jr. (2003). A very
brief measure of the big five personality domains. Journal of
Research in Personality,37, 504–528.
Harker, L. A., & Keltner, D. (2001). Expressions of positive emotion
in women’s college yearbook pictures and their relationship to per-
sonality and life outcomes across adulthood. Journal of Personal-
ity and Social Psychology,80, 112–124.
Hazan, C., & Shaver, P. (1987). Romantic love conceptualized as an
attachment process. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,
52, 511–524.
Hertenstein, M. J., Hansel, C., Butts, S., & Hile, S. (2009). Smile
intensity in photographs predicts divorce later in life. Motivation
& Emotion,33, 99–105.
Kelley, H. H., & Thibaut, J. W. (1978). Interpersonal relations: A
theory of interdependence. New York, NY: Wiley.
Lyubomirsky, S., & Lepper, H. (1999). A measure of subjective
happiness: Preliminary reliability and construct validation. Social
Indicators Research,46, 137–155.
Marshall, T. C., Bejanyan, K., Di Castro, G., & Lee, R. A. (2012).
Attachment styles as predcitors of Facebook-related jealousy and
surveillance in romantic relationships. Personal Relationships.
doi:10.1111/j.1475-6811.2011.01393.x
Muise, A., Christofides, E., & Desmarais, S. (2009). More information
than you ever wanted: Does Facebook bring out the green-eyed
monster of jealousy? Cyberpsychology and Behavior,12, 441–444.
Saslow et al. 417
Oveis, C., Gruber, J., Keltner, D., Stamper, J. L., & Boyce, W. T.
(2009). Smile intensity and warm touch as thin slices of child and
family affective style. Emotion,9, 544–548.
Papp, L. M., Danielewicz, J., & Cayemberg, C. (2012). ‘‘Are we
Facebook official?’’ Implications of dating partners’ Facebook use
and profiles for intimate relationship satisfaction. Cyberpsychol-
ogy & Behaviour,15, 85–90. doi:10.1089.cyber.2011.0291
Raudenbush, S. W., Bryk, A. S., Cheong, Y. F., & Congdon, R. T.
(2004). HLM 6: Hierarchical linear and nonlinear modeling
[Computer software manual]. Chicago, IL: Scientific Software
International.
Reis, H. T., & Gosling, S. D. (2010). Social psychological methods
outside the laboratory. In S. T. Fiske, D. T. Gilbert, & G. Lindzey
(Eds.), Handbook of social psychology (5th ed., Vol. 1, pp.
82–114). New York, NY: John Wiley.
Rusbult, C. E., Martz, J. M., & Agnew, C. R. (1998). The investment
model scale: Measuring commitment level, satisfaction level,
quality of alternatives, and investment size. Personal
Relationships,5, 357–391.
Salimkhan, G., Manago, A., & Greenfield, P. (2010). The construction
of the virtual self on MySpace. Cyberpsychology: Journal of
Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace,4, article 1.
Seider, B. H., Hirschberger, G., Nelson, K. L., & Levenson, R. W.
(2009). We can work it out: Age differences in relational pronouns,
physiology, and behavior in marital conflict. Psychology and
Aging,24, 604–613.
Seder, J. P., & Oishi, S. (2011). Intensity of smiling in Facebook
photos predicts future life satisfaction. Social Psychological and
Personality Science,3, 407–413.
Siibak, A. (2009). Constructing the Self through the Photo selection—
Visual Impression Management on Social Networking Websites.
Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on
Cyberspace,3, article 1.
Strano, M. M. (2008). User descriptions and interpretations
of self-presentation through Facebook profile images.
Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyber-
space,2. Retrieved from http://cyberpsychology.eu/view.php?
cisloclanku¼2008110402&article¼5
Thibaut,J.W.,&Kelley,H.H.(1959).The social psychology of
groups. New York, NY: John Wiley.
Utz, S., & Beukeboom, C. J. (2011). The role of social network sites in
romantic relationships: Effects on jealousy and relationship happi-
ness. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication,16, 511–527.
Wei, M., Russell, D. W., Mallinckrodt, B., & Vogel, D. L. (2007). The
experiences in Close Relationship Scale (ECR)-Short Form: Relia-
bility, validity, and factor structure. Journal of Personality Assess-
ment,88, 187–204.
Weisbuch, M., & Ivcevic, Z., Ambady, N. (2009). On being liked on
the web and in the ‘‘real world’’: Consistency in first impressions
across personal webpages and spontaneous behavior. Journal of
Experimental Social Psychology,45, 573–576.
Wieselquist, J., Rusbult, C. E., Foster, C. A., & Agnew, C. R. (1999).
Commitment, pro-relationship behaviour and trust in close rela-
tionships. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology,77,
942–966.
Wilson, R. E., Gosling, S. D., & Graham, L. T. (2012). A review of
Facebook research in the social sciences. Perspectives on
Psychological Science,7, 203–220.
Young, K. (2008). Online social networking: An Australian perspec-
tive. Paper presented at the AOIR 0.9 Conference, Copenhagen,
Denmark.
Zeger, S. L., & Liang, K. Y. (1986). Longitudinal data analysis for
discrete and continuous outcomes. Biometrics,42, 121–130.
Author Biographies
Laura Saslow is a social and personality psychologist who studies
psychological well-being. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in
Integrative Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco.
Amy Muise is a social psychologist studying sexuality and relation-
ships. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Psychology at the Uni-
versity of Toronto.
Emily Impett is an assistant professor of Psychology at the University
of Toronto Mississauga. The main goal of her research is to investi-
gate how close relationships influence our happiness and well-being.
Matt Dubin is currently a doctoral student in Positive Developmental
Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, studying how to
promote psychological well-being.
418 Social Psychological and Personality Science 4(4)
... Results of previous studies have shown that higher levels of relationship quality or commitment predicted higher levels of relationship visibility on Facebook (Lane et al., 2016;Saslow et al., 2012). However, the mechanism underlying this association is unknown. ...
... The latter describes how the self changes as a result of a romantic relationship (Rus & Tiemensma, 2017). More specifically, this theory stipulates that an intimate relationship involves expanding the self to include the other (Aron et al., 1992;Saslow et al., 2012). According to this theory, indicators of relationship visibility, both desired and actual, can be conceptualized as illustrations of inclusion of the other in the self. ...
... By testing this comprehensive model, we seek to establish whether 1) relational commitment predicts the extent to which partners want their romantic relationship to be an essential part of the image that others form of them via Facebook, 2) partners' attitudes toward relationship visibility are linked to their behaviors, and 3) mutual associations between partners are observed on these variables. Considering past empirical findings (Lane et al., 2016;Saslow et al., 2012), the self-expansion theory (Aron et al., 1992), and the concept of nonindependence in dyadic data analysis (Kenny et al., 2006), we hypothesized that: H1: Higher relational commitment would be related to higher desired relationship visibility on Facebook. Both actor effects and partner effects were expected to be significant. ...
Article
Full-text available
The purpose of this paper was to document the use of social media in romantic relationships. More specifically, we examined whether the information that people desired to share (i.e., desired relationship visibility) and shared in practice (i.e., actual relationship visibility) about their romantic relationships on Facebook was predicted by their level of relational commitment. A sample of 139 couples, users of Facebook, aged 17 to 30 years, participated in the study. Participants completed questionnaires and used the Friendship application on Facebook (which gathered data directly from their Facebook accounts). The mediating role of desired relationship visibility in the link between relational commitment and actual relationship visibility on Facebook (i.e., declared relationship status and transient relationship visibility) was investigated using path analyses for dyadic data. Results of actor-partner interdependence mediation model analyses confirmed that women’s relational commitment was positively associated with their desired relationship visibility on Facebook. Men’s and women’s desired relationship visibility were, in turn, associated with their own and their partner’s declared relationship status and their own transient relationship visibility on Facebook. Our results provided evidence of the dyadic nature of Facebook self-presentations of coupledom.
... This finding corresponds with previous studies, which reported on limited and relatively inconsistent results regarding Instagram's contribution to relationships (Lee et al., 2019;Manvelyan, 2016;Sharabi & Hopkins, 2021). These studies have shown, for example, that Facebook use, but not Instagram use, was positively associated with relationship satisfaction (Manvelyan, 2016;Saslow et al., 2012). ...
... Alternatively, it suggests that each of Knapp's offline stages has some facets that manifest online, and that these online manifestations can shape the relational dynamics as a whole, including the offline practices that remain seemingly detached from social media. In other words, social media affordances allow for online relational practices, which have been found to shape offline relationships, from influencing levels of commitment (Toma & Choi, 2015) to determining relationship satisfaction (Saslow et al., 2012). For example, we have shown that Facebook's editability enables partners to erase textual and visual information about their previous partners, thus helping them move forward as part of the establishment stage. ...
Article
Full-text available
This study draws on Knapp’s offline relationship development model to examine how people construct romantic relationships on social media, with particular attention to the role of affordances in this process. Based on in-depth, semi-structured interviews with 30 relational partners, we show that Knapp’s five traditional stages of relationship construction merge online into three because of social media affordances, including searchability, visibility, anonymity, persistence, storage, and editability. These affordances allow users to search and obtain information about potential partners quickly, conveniently, and anonymously before, during, and after the first interaction. They also enable users to initiate or avoid romantic interactions relatively easily, present shared memories, build a sense of togetherness, and edit or erase online content about previous partners. The findings suggest that most participants perceived Facebook, more than Instagram, as a platform of choice for relationship construction. Addressing the interplay between social media affordances, online relational practices, and offline relationship dynamics, the study shows that offline and online spaces are highly interrelated in terms of interinfluence. Therefore, we argue that the merger of stages is not merely a technical rearrangement but an indication of the fundamental role that online practices play in people’s offline realities, including romantic relationships.
... courtship, disengagement/dissolution, gay/lesbian relationships, gender differences, initiation of personal relationships, surveys 1 | INTRODUCTION According to Rusbult's (1980) investment model, relationships are built and maintained through continual investment in one partner over potential alternative partners. A person can invest in his or her relationship in a multitude of ways, including through increasingly personal self-disclosure, sharing emotional experiences, sexual engagement, or by making a public statement of commitment (Rusbult et al., 1998;Saslow et al., 2013). While the investment model and other classic relationship science theories (e.g., attachment theory; Bowlby, 1983) continue to provide insights into relationship processes like commitment-building and maintenance, the progression of technology into people's social lives has created a new landscape for the unfolding of these processes. ...
... For instance, people report stronger feelings of commitment and higher level of relationship satisfaction when their partners change their publicly viewable Facebook status to "in a relationship" (Mod, 2010). Likewise, posting photos with one's romantic partner has been linked to increased relationship satisfaction and commitment (Saslow et al., 2013). Toma and Choi (2015) reported that public displays of relationship commitment on social media strengthened actual relationship commitment and stability, at least in the short term. ...
Article
According to Rusbult's (1980) investment model, relationships are built and maintained through continual investment in one partner over potential alternative partners. Social media have continued to become more integrated into people's personal lives, with romantic relationship processes often unfolding in this new landscape. A large body of extant literature has explored how social media influence ongoing romantic relationships, but less is known about how social media facilitate relationship transitions (i.e., initiation, dissolution) and associated investment behaviors. In a large and diverse sample (N = 1521), we examine young adults' (18–29 years) social media investment behaviors around the beginnings and ends of their relationships, with a particular focus on how gender, age, and sexual orientation influence behaviors such as posting and removing of images with partners, following and un-following partners and members of partners' social networks, direct messaging, and commenting on partners' posts. Our results suggest that men and sexual minorities more often engage in investment behaviors earlier in the relationship and after relationship dissolution. However, women and sexual minorities more often engage in disinvestment behaviors after dissolution, including removing traces of an ex-partner from one's page and blocking them on social media entirely. Our results provide further understanding of how young American adults are enacting each relationship stage on social media and how the intersection of social media and romantic relationships differs by demographic factors.
... It is common to consider Facebook an easy means to interpret users' individual differences in managing their image and identity (e.g., Pempek et al., 2009;Saslow et al., 2013;Siibak, 2009;Tosun, 2012;Van Der Heide et al., 2012). From this viewpoint, Eftekhar and colleagues (2014) stated that "online behaviors tend to mimic what would be expected of an individual's offline personality characteristics" (p. ...
Article
Full-text available
The number of likes and comments received to social media posts and images are influential for users’ self-presentation and problematic Facebook use. The aim of this study was to highlight the most relevant factors predicting the popularity (i.e., the probability to receive at a least a comment) of Facebook photos based on: (i) Facebook user-related features; (ii) Facebook photo-related features; and (iii) and psychological variables. A mixed approach was used, including objective data extracted from Facebook (regarding users’ characteristics and photo features) as well as answers to a questionnaire. Participants were 227 Facebook users (M = 25.01(1.05) years). They were asked to answer a questionnaire and provide a copy of their Facebook profile data. A total of 180,547 photos receiving a total of 122,689 comments were extracted. Results showed that user-related features (Facebook network and activities) were the most relevant in predicting image popularity accurately. It seems that who posts a Facebook photo matters more than the type of photo posted and the psychological profile of the user. Results are discussed within a psychological perspective. Future research should look at the sentiment (positive vs. negative) of the comments received by different types of photos. This is the first study exploring what makes a Facebook photo popular using objective data rather than self-reported frequency of Facebook activity only. Results might advance current methods and knowledge about potential problematic behaviors on social media.
... Online couple visibility was found to positively correlate with relational satisfaction (Emery et al., 2015;Papp et al., 2012) and with the overall relationship quality (Steers et al., 2016). Becoming FBO led to high levels of closeness (Castañeda et al., 2015;Saslow et al., 2013), love (Sabiniewicz et al., 2017), intimacy and support (Sherrell & Lambie, 2016), high commitment (Castañeda et al., 2015), relationship longevity (Toma & Choi, 2015), and high level of communication . Moreover, online couple visibility increased relationship satisfaction, commitment, and investment (Lane et al., 2016). ...
Article
Facebook has been identified as one of the most influential social network site (SNS) in the formation, maintenance and interruption of romantic relationships. Over the last decade, several studies have been carried out on Facebook and romantic relationships; however, there is still lack of evidence on how the reciprocal perceptions of partners’ behaviours on Facebook relate with couple relationship quality. This study aimed to fill this gap examing whether and to what extent participants’ surveillance and visibility behaviour related with the perception of their partner’s surveillance and visibility behaviour, and to what extent this perception related with both romantic jealousy and relationship quality. A sample of 635 heterosexual women having a romantic relationship participated in a study, which consisted of answering an online questionnaire with items on both the participants’ and their partner’s online behaviour. Path analyses were used for testing the hypotheses. Results showed that Facebook supported behaviours that can affect the quality of romantic relationship. Contrary to what expected, both online surveillance and couple visibility positively related with romantic jealousy, which in turn mediated the relation between surveillance and relationship quality, thereby worsening the participants’ perception of couple relationship quality.
... Some studies that examine online self-disclosure showed that self-disclosure by couples does have a positive impact on their romantic relationships. Saslow (2013) showed that individuals who included their partners in their social media profile images displayed higher relationship satisfaction compared to those who did not include their partners in their profile pictures. Likewise, Papp, Danielewicz, and Cayemberg (2012) found that those who revealed their romantic relationship status on their social media profiles showed higher relationship satisfaction than those who did not. ...
... Hay estudios previos en los que parece existir una relación positiva entre el uso de las redes y la calidad de la relación. Por ejemplo, publicar una foto con la pareja se ha asociado con mayor satisfacción con la relación de pareja (Saslow, Muise, Impett & Dubin, 2012). Sin embargo, es mayor el número de investigaciones interesadas en aspectos que se asocian de manera negativa con la satisfacción con la relación como son los celos, la vigilancia de Facebook e intrusión Muise, Christofides & Desmarais, 2014). ...
... Hay estudios previos en los que parece existir una relación positiva entre el uso de las redes y la calidad de la relación. Por ejemplo, publicar una foto con la pareja se ha asociado con mayor satisfacción con la relación de pareja (Saslow, Muise, Impett & Dubin, 2012). Sin embargo, es mayor el número de investigaciones interesadas en aspectos que se asocian de manera negativa con la satisfacción con la relación como son los celos, la vigilancia de Facebook e intrusión Muise, Christofides & Desmarais, 2014). ...
Article
Full-text available
The active use of social media can potentially jeopardize the quality of romantic relationships. The present study contributes to the existing research body investigating the connection between social media use and relationship satisfaction, by focusing on the users’ social media activity, their relationship visibility, relationship satisfaction and the different types of intimacy. We conducted a web-based data collection where participants (n 418) completed various types of questionnaires, namely the Social Media Use Integration Scale (SMUIS) (Jenkins-Guarnieri, 2013), the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS) (Diener, 1985), the Relationship Assessment Scale (RAS) (Hendrick, 1988), Personal Assessment of Intimacy in Relationships (PAIR) (Schaefer & Olson, 1981), and an additional questionnaire created to study the visibility of romantic relationships on social media. To analyze the collected data, first a correlation analysis was conducted. The findings show that there is a negative correlation between social media activity and romantic relationship satisfaction. Besides, social media activity is negatively associated with emotional, intellectual, recreational and social intimacy. No negative correlation has been found regarding social media activity and sexual intimacy. The correlation analysis also indicates that the users’ visibility on social networks is negatively associated with relationship satisfaction and with all types of intimacy, predominantly with social and recreational intimacy. In the second part of the study, a series of moderated regression analysis were carried out. These analyses have shown that social media activity does not moderate the association between romantic relationships’ visibility on social media and relationship satisfaction.
Article
Given the increasing dependency on social networking sites in modern society, gaining a clearer and more nuanced understanding of whether and how use of this medium is related to relationship quality is of unprecedented importance. The current study reports the first meta-analytic investigation of this research literature, integrating results from 53 independent datasets and 13,873 participants. The data provide evidence for both beneficial and damaging associations, with ones' own or perceived partners’ relational commitment, trust, and uncertainty most consistently explaining these relationships. With respect to positive associations, greater security was related to greater engagement of online positive relationship focused behaviors, such as uploading dyadic photos and having a visible and accurate relationship status. With respect to negative associations, lower security was associated with a greater propensity to pursue alternatives online, and for greater social networking site intrusion. Specific individual and relationship characteristics also influenced the magnitude of certain associations. Taken together, these data indicate that although the landscape of modern relationships has been substantially altered by the introduction of social networking sites, traditional relationship theories of investment and relational maintenance remain highly relevant to understanding which interpersonal behaviors are associated with specific relationship outcomes. This identification of a modern online translation of traditional relationship theories not only has important theoretical implications, but at a practical level can be used to inform the guidance provided to couples seeking to preserve or strengthen their relationships.
Article
Full-text available
This article takes as a point of departure Erving Goffman's (1959) ideas and the self-discrepancy theory of Higgins (1987) in order to introduce the habits of self-presentation of young people in the online environments. The aim of my article is to examine the reasons for joining SNS and the aspects young people would hope to emphasize on their profile images in social networking sites (SNS). I also focus on the qualities that are considered to be crucial by the 11 to 18-year-olds in order to become popular among their peers in the online community. The analysis is based on the findings of a questionnaire survey carried out in comprehensive schools in Estonia among 11 to 18-year-old pupils (N= 713). The results show that motives with a distinctly social focus dominate among the reasons for creating a profile in SNS. However, visible gender differences occur in the reasons for selecting particular profile images. The findings reveal that girls creating their visual self value both the aesthetic, emotional, self-reflecting as well as aesthetic-symbolical aspects of photographing more than their male counterparts. Furthermore, visual impression management in SNS varies according to the expectations of the reference group at hand, as the profile images of the young are constructed and re-constructed based on the values associated with "the ideal self" or "the ought self".
Article
Full-text available
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.
Article
This article explores the possibility that romantic love is an attachment process--a biosocial process by which affectional bonds are formed between adult lovers, just as affectional bonds are formed earlier in life between human infants and their parents. Key components of attachment theory, developed by Bowlby, Ainsworth, and others to explain the development of affectional bonds in infancy, were translated into terms appropriate to adult romantic love. The translation centered on the three major styles of attachment in infancy--secure, avoidant, and anxious/ambivalent--and on the notion that continuity of relationship style is due in part to mental models (Bowlby's "inner working models") of self and social life. These models, and hence a person's attachment style, are seen as determined in part by childhood relationships with parents. Two questionnaire studies indicated that relative prevalence of the three attachment styles is roughly the same in adulthood as in infancy, the three kinds of adults differ predictably in the way they experience romantic love, and attachment style is related in theoretically meaningful ways to mental models of self and social relationships and to relationship experiences with parents. Implications for theories of romantic love are discussed, as are measurement problems and other issues related to future tests of the attachment perspective.
Article
This article reports the development and validation of a scale to measure global life satisfaction, the Satisfaction With Life Scale (SWLS). Among the various components of subjective well-being, the SWLS is narrowly focused to assess global life satisfaction and does not tap related constructs such as positive affect or loneliness. The SWLS is shown to have favorable psychometric properties, including high internal consistency and high temporal reliability. Scores on the SWLS correlate moderately to highly with other measures of subjective well-being, and correlate predictably with specific personality characteristics. It is noted that the SWLS is suited for use with different age groups, and other potential uses of the scale are discussed.
Article
This paper reports the findings of a survey conducted in Australia in 2007/08 that investigated the experiences of online social network users aged between 15-65 years. This research is underpinned by two socio-cultural theories of learning: Situated Cognition and Activity Theory, and has a particular emphasis on online identity creation. Both quantitative and qualitative data are reported on issues of privacy, relationship between online and offline friends, time spent engaged in online social networking activities, use of photographs and status features and positive and negative experiences associated with online social networking. The findings are then interpreted from a socio-cultural perspective of learning.