Studies show emotional impact of Facebook ‘unfriending’
DENVER — Two new studies released by the University of Colorado-Denver highlight trends in ‘unfriending’ on Facebook and the emotional responses that can result.
Published in January, the studies showed the the most common type of person to be unfriended on Facebook is a high school acquaintance, according to a release from CU Denver.
Christopher Sibona, a doctoral student in the Computer Science and Information Systems program at the university’s Business School, attributed this particular trend to people posting “polarizing comments often about religion or politics” — these views may not have been as evident or developed as when they were in high school.
He added, “The other big reason for unfriending was frequent, uninteresting posts.”
Both studies were based on a survey of 1,077 people conducted on Twitter.
According to the first study, the top five kinds of people unfriended on Facebook were high school friends, “other,” friend of a friend, work friends and common interest friends.
“We found that people often unfriend co-workers for their actions in the real world rather than anything they post on Facebook,” Sibona said.
The second study analyzed the emotional response people had to be unfriended, which were surprise, being bothered by it, amusement and sadness.
Sibona found that unfriending happens more often between friends who were once close rather than acquaintances.
He said the studies showed that ending relationships in the digital realm yielded real-world consequences that require additional research.
“If you have a lot of friends on Facebook, the cost of maintaining those friendships is pretty low,” he said. “So if you make a conscious effort to push a button to get rid of someone, that can hurt.”
Currently, Sibona is conducting a study on why people chose to stay or leave Facebook. People can participate by taking the survey.