Happiness and wellbeing directly correlated with authenticity on social media, study reveals

There is plenty to be said about the impact of social media on mental health, but one study believes that authenticity is the key to strong mental resilience.

According to the research published by Columbia Business School, people who portray an “authentic image” on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are more likely to report higher wellbeing and happiness scores.

The research comes after recent statistics found that eight in 10 people use some form of social media every day, with three-quarters of those checking their accounts daily for an average of 30 minutes.

And with social media playing such a pivotal role in the lives of regular users, understanding the mental wellbeing impact is vitally important for long-term health.

The researchers examined “authenticity” on social media by using observations of actual behaviour rather than self-reports. This involved the analysis of 10,560 Facebook users to predict their “big five” personality traits. These being Openness to Experience, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism. These were then compared to participants’ self-reported personality profiles.

Conclusively, it was found that those who expressed authentic views and opinions on social media reported greater life satisfaction and overall happiness.

Commenting on the study, author and Columbia Business School Professor, Sandra Matz, said: “Social media allows users a vast amount of control in deciding the persona they wish to show the world. With that control comes the temptation to create our ‘best self’.

“We show that resisting this temptation and instead sharing one’s authentic day-to-day experiences is critical when it comes to users’ life satisfaction and happiness.”

She added: “One thing is clear – how someone is engaging on social media has a heavy impact on what they’re getting out of it.”

The latest figures suggest that around one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, with the most common illnesses being anxiety and depression.

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