Look-at-me women flocking to Facebook

Women who base self-worth heavily on appearance much more promiscuous sharers on social network sites

Women who base their self-worth heavily on appearance are likely to be more promiscuous about sharing photos and friending people online, according to new research from the University at Buffalo about online behavior on social network sites.

The findings, laid out in a paper published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, "suggest persistent differences in the behavior of men and women that result from a cultural focus on female image and appearance," says Michael Stefanone, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication who conducted the research with colleagues from the University of Texas, Austin, and University of Hawaii, Manoa. (See video below of Stefanone further explaining the research.)

The study is based on a survey of 311 people, split almost evenly between men and women, with an average age of about 23. They filled out a questionnaire measuring "contingencies of self worth" and were queried about their Facebook behavior, including how frequently they shared photos and managed their profiles and how they went about friending others online.

"Participants whose self worth is based on private-based contingencies (defined in this study as academic competence, family love and support, and being a virtuous or moral person)," says Stefanone, "spend less time online [seeking attention]."

Stefanone adds: "It is disappointing to me that in the year 2011 so many young women continue to assert their self worth via their physical appearance -- in this case, by posting photos of themselves on Facebook as a form of advertisement. Perhaps this reflects the distorted value pegged to women's looks throughout the popular culture and in reality programming from 'The Bachelor' to 'Keeping Up with the Kardashians.'"

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