Why are sites like Facebook so enjoyable? According to a new study published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, it’s because using Facebook touches a different set of emotional states in ourselves compared to other activities.

To find out why it affects us so differently, researchers set up a three-part experiment. First, volunteers were asked to use Facebook, logging on to their own accounts. Next, they were made to watch a series of slideshows of relaxing images like natural landscapes. Lastly, they were put under a Stroop test--a test in which participants were flashed words like "red" but were asked identify the color the word was written with--along with a mathematical task to see how they would react to stress.

All throughout the tests, researchers observed their participants for changes in skin conductance, brain wave patterns, and blood volume pulse, among others.

Upon analysis, researchers found out that Facebook invoked a different set of patterns than did the activities designed to promote stress and relaxation. They then described the biological signals for Facebook use in alignment as a "Core Flow State"—which is characterized by "positive valence and high arousal." By this, the researchers mean that using Facebook excites us and makes us feel positive emotions.

As it is a recent concept, many have differing definitions of "Core Flow State." Some researchers are saying that it is a state in which individuals are challenged and enjoy what they are doing at the same time. Others believe that it is a signal that makes people want to repeat an experience. With these speculations, no wonder so many of us like going on Facebook so much.

Still, Facebook isn’t the only thing that can induce such reactions from us. According to the study, there should be more research done on human-computer interactions in general.


For more studies on Facebook, check these out on FN:

(Photo by Les_Stockton via Flickr Creative Commons)

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