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Brendan Lynch
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Oversharing online bad for relationships

Thu, 02/14/2013

LAWRENCE — Spilling your guts to the entire world on Facebook may be a good way to ruin a romantic relationship, according to new research by psychologists at the University of Kansas.

In three separate studies, they found that people in romantic relationships don’t like their partner to broadcast their innermost feelings and personal experiences to the online social network.

“You have the expectation of your partner only telling you some of this important information, but then you see that they’re telling the whole world,” said Juwon Lee, a doctoral student in psychology at KU who conducted the investigation. “So you feel less special and unique.”

What’s more, even in the eyes of the partner engaged in the Facebook blabbing, their real-world relationship gets dinged.

“For the discloser himself or herself, disclosing a lot may lead to lower intimacy and satisfaction, because the more you do it, the more you perceive there are a lot of potential mates out in the world — so a lot of alternative mates that you can choose from,” Lee said. “That may lessen the value of your own relationship.”

Working with Omri Gillath, associate professor of psychology at KU, the researchers first determined what constituted high self-disclosure on Facebook, then correlated that with the high-disclosers’ feelings of lower satisfaction and intimacy in their romantic relationships. A second study found that the romantic partners of Facebook blabbermouths also had lower estimates of their relationship quality.

Lastly, the KU researchers created two mock Facebook walls, one of which featured a circumspect user — who briefly mentioned sports and weather and linked to items of interest on the Internet — the other of which had a user who let it all hang out, bemoaning parents, classes, weight problems and posting a plethora of party pictures.

“We asked participants to imagine that these were the Facebook walls of their romantic partner,” Lee said. “We found that people who were given the high-disclosure wall felt less intimacy with the user than people who were given the low-disclosure wall.”

The researchers predicted their results in advance, based on previous studies of Facebook and real-world romance, including one that found Facebook was mentioned in a third of divorce filings in the United Kingdom.

“There’s an assumption that as a partner you’re entitled to some kind of privileged information, and that’s why disclosure is so important in our culture,” said Lee. “So high disclosure leads to lower intimacy and satisfaction. For example, one thing that can lead to jealousy is an ambiguous situation involving your partner. On Facebook, your partner has 500 friends, and you have no idea who is seeing this information and who is not.”

High self-disclosure didn’t harm regular friendships, according to Lee, because friends don’t have the same expectation of exclusivity as monogamous romantic partners.

For the record, Lee has her own Facebook account, and she said she’d likely qualify on the higher end of self-disclosure.



Matt Menzenski, a graduate student in Slavic languages & literatures, took this photo during President Obama’s speech at KU Thursday. Menzenski says he was struck by how relaxed the president was in his delivery. He missed a chance to hear former President Bill Clinton speak in his hometown in 2004, but finally got to see a sitting president this week at KU. “The opportunity to hear the president speak is just one of many great opportunities I've had at KU. So many interesting talks and events happen here all the time. I try to attend at least one a week-- it's never hard to find something interesting to go to.” Tags: University of Kansas College of Liberal Arts and Sciences KU School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures KU Dept of Slavic Languages - Friends & Alumni Barack Obama The White House #exploreKU #POTUSatKU

#KUfacts : There are 30+ tenant companies in the Bioscience & Technology Business Center at KU. http://t.co/PqeeY5r16W #growKS
Explore KU: The Bells of Mount Oread KU’s Campanile, a 120-foot-tall timepiece that tolls automatically on the hour and quarter-hour, not only sounded in the 2015 New Year at midnight with 12 mighty gongs, but also regularly rings up memories for many Jayhawks – the 277 faculty and students who gave their lives during World War II, the graduates who walk through its doors at commencement, and aspiring students who have strolled through the Lawrence campus. (See http://bit.ly/1xjjwJj). For nearly 60 years, KU’s 53-bell carillon has been tolling the sounds of peace and serenity across Mount Oread since it was installed in June 1955 inside the landmark World War II Memorial Campanile, which was dedicated in 1951. (See http://bit.ly/1BoL9jv) The carillon is also a four-octave musical instrument, which is played with a giant keyboard and foot pedals. University Carillonneur Elizabeth Egber-Berghout (http://bit.ly/14fiBPl), associate professor of carillon and organ, climbs 77 steps up a spiral staircase in the bell tower to perform recitals several times a month.


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