Facebook comments can make people as happy as getting married or having a baby, according to research by CMU and a Facebook research scientist.
The study found that 60 comments from close friends each month triggered the same level of satisfaction as a major life event.
But researchers said that passively reading and liking posts doesn’t have the same effect.
Moira Burke, co-author and research scientist at Facebook, said: “The important thing is that someone [...] takes the time to personalize it.
“The content may be uplifting, and the mere act of communication reminds recipients of the meaningful relationships in their lives.”
The researchers surveyed nearly 2,000 participants while assessing de-identified counts of their behaviour on Facebook.
Previous research has linked the social network to envy, low self-esteem and depression.
The scientists acknowledged such studies, but challenged claims that social media can exacerbate unhappiness.
Robert Kraut, co-author and professor in Carnegie Mellon University’s Human-Computer Interaction Institute, said in a statement:
“You’re left to wonder – is it that unhappy people are using social media, or is social media affecting happiness?”
Burke added: “[The study] suggests that people who are feeling down may indeed spend more time on social media, but they choose to do so because they’ve learned it makes them feel better.
“They’re reminded of the people they care about in their lives.”
However, a study last year came to a different conclusion. Researchers from the University of Houston said that Facebook could exaggerate depression.
Mai-Ly Steers, lead author, told Forbes that the social network wasn’t necessarily the cause of depression, but added: “Depressed feelings and lots of time on Facebook and comparing oneself to others tend to go hand in hand.
“Heavy Facebook users might be comparing themselves to their friends, which in turn, can make them feel more depressed.”
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