Being Unfriended and The Emotional Impact

unfriendedThe University of Colorado Denver has explored the relatively new experience of being unfriended on Facebook with two studies.[1] The first clarifies the most common type of “friend” to be unfriended, while the second examines the emotional impact of the action.1

The studies found that the most common type of “friend” to be unfriended is a high school acquaintance.1 “The most common reason for unfriending someone from high school is that the person posted polarizing comments often about religion or politics” said Christopher Sibona, a doctoral student at Colorado University Denver Business School. “The other big reason for unfriending was frequent, uninteresting posts.”1

The first study found that the top five kinds of people respondents unfriended were: high school friends, friends of a friend, work friends, common interest friends, and other.1

“We found that people often unfriend coworkers for their actions in the real world rather than anything they post on Facebook,” said Sibona.1

A reason Sibona believes high school friends are top targets for unfriending is that their political and religious beliefs may not have been as strong when they were younger.1 Once those beliefs grow stronger over time, it is easier to offend others.1

“Your high school friends may not know your current political or religious beliefs and you may be quite vocal about them,” said Sibona. “And one thing about social media is that online disagreements escalate much more quickly.”1

The second study looked at the emotional impact of being unfriended.1 There were a range of emotions found to be connected to unfriending, from being bothered to being amused.1 The most common were: surprise, bothered, amused, and sad.1

“The strongest predictor is how closer you were at the peak of your friendship when the unfriending happened,” said Sibona. “You may be more bothered and saddened if your best friend unfriends you.”1

The study found four core factors that can be used to predict someone’s emotional response to being unfriended.1 Two factors predict if a user will be negatively affected: if the unfriended person was once a close frond to the person who unfriended them, and how closely the person monitors their own friends list.1 The other two factors predict is a user will be less negatively affected: if difficulties were discussed before the unfriending, and if the person unfriended talked about it with others afterwards.1

Surprisingly, unfriending often happens more to close friends than to acquaintances.1

“Despite the preponderance of weak ties throughout online social networks, these findings help to place unfriending with the greater context of relationship dissolution,” said Sibona. “If you have a lot of friends on Facebook, the cost of maintaining those friendships is pretty low. So, if you make a conscious effort to push a button to get rid of someone, that can hurt.”1

[1] Nauert, R. (2014). Emotional Impact of Being Unfriended. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 30, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/news/2014/04/23/emotional-impact-of-being-unfriended/68869.html

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We are the only facility in Florida owned and operated by an addiction psychiatrist involved in all treatment decisions. Learn more
Hello. Add your message here.