A new study examined how social media cues such as the Facebook logo may affect frequent and less frequent social media users differently, sparking spontaneous hedonic reactions that make it difficult to resist social media cravings. The intriguing results are reported in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.
In the article entitled "Spontaneous Hedonic Reactions to Social Media Cues," Guido van Koningsbruggen and Tilo Hartmann, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, Allison Eden, Michigan State University, and Harm Veling, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands, describe two studies. In the first study, participants rated a series of images as pleasant or unpleasant after an initial exposure to either the Facebook logo or a neutral cue. The researchers expected frequent social media users to react more positively to the images that followed the Facebook logo, whereas they did not expect the cue to affect the responses of the less frequent users. The second study replicated the first and added another dimension—measuring Facebook cravings among the participants, defined as a strong desire to use social media or a preoccupation with social media.
If spontaneous reactions to social media cues can trigger cravings for social media use, then together these could contribute to the difficulty people might face resisting these temptations.
"Findings in this study seem to be in line with previous research on cues and cravings in foods (such as chocolate) and substances (such as nicotine)," says Editor-in-Chief Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCB, BCN, Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, California and Virtual Reality Medical Institute, Brussels, Belgium. "Understanding hedonic reactions, both psychological and physiological, to social media cues can help us to develop more effective treatment and prevention protocols."
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Guido M. van Koningsbruggen et al, Spontaneous Hedonic Reactions to Social Media Cues, Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking (2017). DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2016.0530