According to a new study, people who value materialistic items are believed to have more friends on social networking site Facebook, and are more likely to devote more time to the platform in than those less motivated by their possessions.
The researchers behind the study suggest that materialistic people tend to view their Facebook connections as “digital objects” and are more likely to want to have more of them, leading them to use Facebook more frequently and more intensely than others.
Research agency Heliyon was behind the study, and also found that materialistic people have a desire or a need to make comparisons between themselves and those to whom they are connected on social media sites.
The lead author of the study was Phillip Ozimek and he suggested that the reason why materialists have an urge to collect friends on Facebook and other social networks is because they have a habit of objectifying them, and view them as possessions. By acquiring more friends, they increase the number of digital possessions they have, which is what ultimately drives a materialistic person.
Furthermore, Ozimek states that Facebook is the best platform for users to make these social comparisons as there are billions of different profiles on the site, each containing information about each user. What’s more, it’s also free to use, and one of the character traits of materialists is that they love tools and possessions that cost little or no money.
Ozimek’s research team conducted their study from the Ruhr-University in Bochum, Germany where they collected data from a total of 242 users of Facebook via a questionnaire. Each participant was asked to indicate whether they agreed with a number of different statements relating to their activity on the platform, as well as details about their views on the value of material possessions.
An example statement was:
“Having many Facebook friends contributes to more success in my personal and professional life.”
Another statement read:
“My life would be better if I owned certain things I don’t have.”
The study found that there was a strong link between intense levels of Facebook activity and materialism. To back up these hypotheses, the research team repeated the same process on a secondary sample of Facebook users, with a further 289 users taking part in the study. This led the team to come to the same conclusion.
Ozimek and his team compared the results to a theory that suggests that social media users use these platforms to monitor their progress in terms of achieving their goals.