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WATCH OUT: FACEBOOK AND THE NEED TO EVALUATE BY HORACE GREELEY DAWSON, IV A Thesis Su bmitted to the Division of Social Sciences New College of Florida In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree Bachelor of Arts Under the sponsorshi p of Dr. David Brain Sarasota, Florida May 2011
ii A cknowledgements I could not have completed this project without dedicated support. Firstly, my sponsors: I would like to thank my thesis sponsor David Brain for his patience, especi ally in guiding me through the final stages of the thesis process. I would also like to thank Prof. Fairchild for over a year and a half of guidance well beyond her work for the sociology senior seminar, and Prof. Graham for sponsoring my thesis tutorial a nd helping my ideas take shape. Thank you to my family and friends for their unwavering support, and a special thank you to Mai for her endless encouragement throughout the process and her reassurance towards its end.
iii Table of Contents 1. Introduction 1 2. Li terature review 7 2.1. 7 2.2. The need to evaluate 20 2.3. Internet use, F acebook use, and social capital 26 3. Method 31 3.1. Survey design 31 3.2. Sample 34 3.3. Analysis 35 4. Results 36 5. Discussion 38 6. Conclusion 42 7. Bibliography 46
iv WATCH OUT: FACEBOOK AND THE NEED TO EVALUATE Horace Greeley Dawson, IV New College of Florida, 2011 ABSTRACT Online so cial media have come to provide an important mode of communication and social interaction among peers, and have also recently proven to be significant forces in the global political scene. A social psychological construct measuring the tendency of individuals to form attitudes known as the need to evaluate is hypothesized to correlate positively with the f the social networking website known as Facebook. Information found in the sociological literature leadin g to this hypothesis includes the evaluative nature of socioec websites which may also represent differences in the general need to evaluate of those userbases. A survey administered to the student body of a small liberal arts college t esting this hypothesis uncovers no significant statistical correlation between any of the variables measured. Possible reasons for this lack of correlation are explored, with systematically depressed responses for certain Facebook use intensity variables s uggested as cause for questioning the accuracy of the data. Other avenues for research are explored, including other political activism and social monitoring. Dr. David Brain Division of Social Sciences
1 Chapter 1: Introduction Online social media began as a way to connect real life networks of offline friends. It has since spread to use by businesses, community groups, and non profits to advertise themselves, lure sponsors, and report updates. Celebrities use it to directly reach out to their fans, and politicians use it to communicate with citizens; some political analysts have suggested that the etworking tactics utilized by his idential Election (Carr, 2008). If the last presidential election will be remembered as the first in which social media was a highly visible presence the international events that have transpired during President particularly in the Middle East and North Africa, will leave a similar legacy. During the civil unrest that followed the 2009 election in Iran, the most reliable information leaving the country came not through the government controlled mass media but through videos, images, and text uploaded to the Internet directly through social media by Iranian citizens. Furthermore, not only did citizens use social m edia to report on events, but they also used it to organize the diffuse coalition of activists working for the resistance. This pattern continued in a another wave of unrest that overtook the Middle East and North Africa beginning in late 2010 and continui ng through 2011, eventually leading to successful revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt; civil war in Libya; ousting of leaders in Jordan, Syria, Yemen, Oman, Iraq, Bahrain, and Kuwait; and widespread protests throughout the region. As one Egyptian activist sai Facebook to schedule the protests, Twitter to coordinate and YouTube to tell the world (Howard, 2011).
2 Traditional media are under strict central control in many of the se countries and the willingness of these governments to use violence to r epress dissent has always made it dangerous for any of its citizens to challenge the power of the state. However, t he peer to peer nature and collaborative features of online social media have put it in a unique position to operate free of the censorship o f authoritarian regimes Home computers and mobile devices have allow ed citizens to communicate with the world from the safety of their homes or from the anonymous cover of a large crowd and this kind of fluid versatility has proven to pose a formidable c hallenge to the ossified institutional domination of several oppressive authoritarian regimes This easy accessibility may have made revolutionary action a more feasible prospect for particular segments of the population in countries experiencing unrest. N ews commentators observing the civil unrest in the places mentioned above, particularly in Egypt, noted that young women were unusually active participants in street demonstrations considering that these were largely Muslim societies where in many cases, suffrage had been denied to legally mature females until relatively recently and unmarried women is traditionally restricted B oth male and female a ctivists who are critical enough of oppressive regimes to use social media to coor dinate attacks on them often sacrifice the personal safety of themselves and their families for their political beliefs. It appears that these revolutionaries are drawn to social media by the opportunities it offers to share their struggle s with the world and gain support for their causes Are other people with strong political opinions more likely to use social media for this reason specifically in more liberal democratic societies where there are a multitude of other venues for civic expression ?
3 Browsing sites like Facebook as a typical user might be expected to do, is a very active process. Unlike media such as radio, movies, and television, social media requires intermittent reading interspersed with decisions about where to navigate next Where compar able offline activities exist, for example, in the form of print magazines and newspapers, they are rapidly losing ground to digital alt ernatives, such as online news. Like using any website, every d ecision about where to navigate in the realm of social me dia leads to a flurry of new possibilities. Choosing among these possibilities requires users to constantly make decisions about where to navigate next, each of which requires some kind of process of evaluation. Activities that are this heavy on this kind of process of constant evaluation are perhaps most easily accessed through the Internet and are not nearly as readily available offline Furthermore, Facebook encourages evaluation even more so than other which allows users to positively rate objects appealing to people who enjoy evaluating stimuli. T he study upon which this thesis is based will examine whethe r a social psychological individual difference measure called the need to evaluate is correlated with gr eater intensity of Facebook use, operationalized by the following three survey items: the amount of times a subject visits Facebook per day, the average amount of time spent on Facebook per day, and the is a measure of to rate objects in their environment spontaneously as either positive or negative. It is a personality measur e est ablished by social psychology researchers to aid in predicting the likelihood that individuals will participate in various social phenomena several of which will be disc ussed later
4 trait may be misleading to some readers Like all personality traits, the need to evaluate varies measurably between individuals. As will be discussed later, evaluation is a process everyone in which everyone can be assumed to engage, but some people are m ore likely to do so than others. The need to evaluate aims at measuring this variation. I predict that the need to evaluate can be used as an independent variable to predict the intensity with which individuals use Facebook. My reasons for this prediction include the active nature and necessity for constant evaluation involved with browsing sites like Facebook; the role social media has recently played in several important political confrontations (both unplanned revolutionary ones abroad and electoral d emocratic ones domestically ); and research that has revealed that people not only use social media to judge their peers, but also that they show a tendency to engage in constant critical evaluation of the quality of the information they find online. The st rengths of traits such as the need to evaluate vary between individuals, and such personality measures aim at gauging the extent of this variation. These traits constantly affect the behavior of people in measureable ways during the regular course of their everyday lives. Their importance to social psychology lies in their continuous regular social interactions. likelihood and extent of evaluative resp onding across emphasis in original ). Individuals high in the need to evaluate have been demonstrated to have formed attitudes on a variety of social and political issues (Jarvis and Petty, 1996). In lay terms, t hey are people who would probably be considered to be opinionated. This thesis will review
5 academic l iterature relevant to the topic the need to evaluate and ways in which Facebook might be more likely to be used by individuals measuring high in this trait Research on olitical and civic engagement will also be explored If a correlation is found between Facebook use and the need to evaluate, this could serve as evidence that individuals with a high need to evaluate are usin g online social media to a pprai se their peers remotely, fulfilling some of their inclination to observe the people around them through the Internet instead of in person. This concept of social monitoring and the ways in which this monitoring operates w ill be explored in greater detail later in this paper. A positive correlation would also suggest that the greater political motives of high need to evaluate individuals (which will be explored later) are being served by online social media, perhaps partly as a tool for building bridging social capital between like minded activists that they can utilize for political ends (Huysman and Wulf, 2004 ) Social m Web 2.0 (2005) where users become the authors of content in a variety of fo rmats, including text, images, and video, within highly interactive web environments. They share this content through connections with a specific group of other users with whom they have established connections These connections are incorporated into the structure of the website, and, in a feature that is unique to social networking, they can be made visible to other users so that they may be used to traverse networks. On Facebook, as well as on most other social networking sites, these connections are est the website, implies anything from a close relationship to a fleeting acquaintance (Boyd, 2006). Content changes as quickly as users update their personal pages a
6 ontinuously updating news feed. In a feature adopted from Twitter, Facebook now allows users to publicall y direct posts incorporated). Further convergence has taken place between Web 2.0 social networking environments with Twitter, YouTube, and many other websites, and previously mentioned objects posted by their friends As mentioned before, this feature is lik ely to appeal to high need to evaluate individuals, so this convergence may make the use of Web 2.0 social media in general more appealing to these people, which could reduce the correlation between the need to evaluate and Facebook use by reducing the amo unt of time they spend on Facebook and increasing the amount of time they spend elsewhere online. T he increasing density of association between these websites also appears to be increasing the amount of navigational choices available to users of social med ia, which could compel people to evaluate more information in deciding where to direct their attention. The next chapter identity formation, social interaction, and social monitoring. I t will also review research on the social psychological implications of the need to evaluate.
7 Chapter 2: Literature Review oring of romantic relationships, social gatherings, and other such se mi private information may reveal itself through interactions on websites such as Facebook, whose users risk exposing this information to the scrutiny of whomever of their family and friends also use the website. Mutual monitoring has been a feature of soc ial interaction for as long as human communities have existed, but according to Adrejevic, the use of sites like Facebook as tools of peer to peer surveillance has made this monitoring possible in the form of stitute for debunked (Adrejevic 2005, p. 481 482). The pervasiveness of social networking has given people the oppo rtunity to engage in coveillance out side of the realm of unmediated, interpersonal communicatio n. As will be explored later, certain people may have highly compelling reasons to reduce the frequency of their participation in this kind of face to face inter action, and if social networking gives them the opportunity to do so, they may increasingly engage in surreptitious online information gathering as a replacement for face to face gossip. The time displacement hypothesis proposed by Putnam (2000) suggests t his as a possible consequence of virtual interaction. Adrejevic argues that the immense amount of information available on the Internet has led to a mistrust of what is said in favor of what can be detected He suggests that one reacti on to this crisis of epistemology in which everything can be demystified
8 through investigation, ( p. 482 ) With more data available onl ine on almost any topic than any one person could ever hope to sufficiently absorb, the constant discovery of ever more information becomes a justifiable end in itself. Adrejevic does not employ any specific social psychological concepts to explain this id ea, but it sounds remarkably similar to the description researcher s give of individuals who are high in the need to evaluate as engaging in frequent evaluation of people and objects around them not necessarily for a practical purpose but simply because th e y gain a sense of personal gratification from doing so Reframing this argument in the context of this thesis, its implication is that if the wealth of social information accessible on the Internet le a d s people to trust that information more than knowledg e they gain from talking directly to others as Adrejevic claims, it also offers individuals with a high need to evaluate the tools to satisfy that need by engaging in coveillance of their peers in a manner which has not been possible in the past. The next few pages of this literature review will focus on research that not only explores the ways in which social media is used for peer to peer evaluation, but also on research that suggests that social media users are constantly evaluating the validity of the i nformation itself. This focus will add evidence to the argument that high need to evaluate individuals are more lik ely than others to use Facebook intensely; low need to evaluate individuals are posited to be averse to the processes of evaluation necessary for using social media. Research will also be cited that suggests that Facebook assists individuals in building social capital, a role that endows it with great potentia l in effecting political action ( which is important because, as mentioned before, high need to evaluate individuals are more likely than others to be active in politics).
9 Perhaps on e of the most powerful tools of coveillance offered by Facebook, as well as o n e of its most prominent popular and controversial features is its photo sharing capabilities, Despite conc erns over the privacy implications of the wide dissemination of personal photos over the Internet, millions of t hese semi publically expressing affection for one anoth Zhao, Sherri, & Martin, 2008, p. 1825); in other words, engaging in face to face social interaction Here, images of offline social gatherings are shared on the Internet as potential sites for online interaction via comments on these images. Although these depictions of overwhelmingly positive interactions may not be accurate representations of friends?), social media users who are engaging in social monitoring ar e likely to take them at face value, as g enuine depictions of real interactions between Facebook users and their peers Because of this, Facebook users who post pictures are using them in part as a means of identifying themselves through association with o thers as will be explored later in a discussion of social context effects F wall posts are similarly used to construct an identity through public communication with friends and associates. People used such associations to gain information about on e another long before the advent of online social networking. Exploring these associations through social media however, allows an individu al to gather information with very little risk that the target of inquiry will find out (Parks & Adelman, 1983). In
10 In a Facebook profile, things that others say about a target may be more compelling than things an individual says about his or herself. It has more warrant because it is not as controllable by the target (Walther, Van Der Heide, Kim, Westerman, & Tong, 2008 p. 33 ). This is an example of the kind of coveillance Adrejevic is refering to in his discussion of peer to peer social mo nitoring. Facebook wall posts are more compelling than something a subject of this coveillance may write about him or herself because they give users the sense that they are uncovering information on their own, through covert investigation instead of sim has put in plain view for everyone to read It is also an example of differentially e valuating information, a practice that I propose is an important part of using social media as well as part of the reason that high need to e valuate individuals may be more likely to use websites like Facebook. Walther & Parks (2002) studied interactions between online identity claims and cues this informa manipulation by that individual. Third hand reports about someone gained from people in his or her social network are one example of high warrant information A Facebook wall post is typically an independently created artifact of a relationship between two online friends, and the friend to which it is directed has no power to alter its content. Its high warranting value might therefore be more likely to be use d to judge his or her character because it is seen as more valid
11 than any self made identity claims which are entirely in control of the person who is writing about him or her self Environmental markers are another kind of high warrant information. model (1956) describes a process through which people infer the characteristics of others by observing and judging the behaviors and artifacts they produce, which are assumed to reflect their personalities. These serve as a lens through which character can be examined. Gosling, Ko, Mannarelli, and Morris (2002) used this model in a study of personality judgments based on personal spaces, namely offices and bedrooms. Th ey suggested four methods by which observers linked inhabitants to their environments: self directed identity claims, other directed identity claims, interior behavioral residue, and exterior behavioral residue. ts made by occupants for their own benefit, intended to reinforce their self directed identity claims, however, are past behaviors and anticipated future behaviors to be carried out there. Empty containers of food, fo r example, indicat e what food has been eaten there Exterior behavioral residue is t has participated in that sport or at least plans to do so in the future. Several researchers have extended these elements beyond the realm of physical space into the virtual world by using the lens model to study how viewers of personal websites use them to make judgments about their creators (Marcus, Machilek, & Shtz, 2006). Behavioral
12 residue emerges here as broken hyperlinks, spelling and grammar mistakes, and similar lapses that serve as unintended personality cues. One study presented observers with a random selection of personal websites from the Yahoo! Directory and asked them to rate the personalities of their creators with the fi ve factor model of personality. When the creators rated themselves, their self ratings matched well with the ratings th e observers gave them (Vazire & Gosling, 2004). This demonstrates that claimed representations and their online presentations of their selves are similar and that Facebook users can construct an accurate portrayal of the people they investig ate over the Internet that is likely to closely match the way these people would represent themselves. This congruence Online, it is easy to assess many people in a short period of time. Gathering a similarly accurate and wide breadth of information in typical offline interactions would more difficult both because of efforts by subjects of of their more diffuse geographical positions. The above study was conducted on personal Yahoo! w ebsites, which are not interactive enough to qualify as social media in the strict sense of the term. However, the information found on these websites is similar to what migh description section of a Facebook profile page. reported information found on Facebook, one might conclude that this information, which users put directly on their Facebook page s, is probably at least as reliable as (if not more reliable than) the things other people post about those users. But, as noted earlier, Walther, Van Der Heide, Kim, Westerman, & Tong suggest that users of social media evaluate these two types of informat ion differently. This may be an example of high need to evaluate individuals satisfying their need by
13 engaging in unnecessary evalu ation of irrelevant information: i f self descriptions are just as ocial media users gain no benefit by discriminating between the two, other than a belief that their evaluation of one above the other is somehow useful and perhaps, as Adrejevic was quoted previously for the process of demystification for its own sake C ontext effects in social perception go beyond the source s of socia l l y relevant information. They also include the characteristics of people who are associated with a target person. Melamed and Moss (1975) showed pairs of photographs to subjects that disp layed an individual of average attractiveness with either a highly attractive or highly unattractive individual. Subjects were given no information about the relationship between the two people in the photos. The researchers found a contrast effect: Subjec ts rated average faces as less attractive when they were paired with a more attractive face and more attractive with a less attractive face. A second experiment paired average faces with two attractive ones or two unattractive ones. Half the subjects were told that the individuals in the pictures were associated, and the other half were not given any information on their association. The first group showed an assimilation effect: average faces were rated as better alongside attractive faces and worse alongs ide of unattractive faces. Other researchers found similar effects for combinations of four photos and two photos (Geiselman, Haight, & Kimata, 1984), as well as in live, face to face interaction (Kernis & Wheeler, 1981). In 2008, a group of researchers de signed a study to find out whether these context standing association between
14 effects on social attra valued and respected succeeding in practical endeavors (Walther, Van Der Heid e, Kim, Westerman & Tong, 2008, p. 36). Furthermore, these researchers hypothesized that as described earlier by Gosling, Ko, Mannarelli, and Morris the profile owner in terms of the two measures just mentioned as well as in terms of credibility. They defined this characteristic as the extent to which targets were evaluated as acce ptable sources of information (c redibility generally pertains to a targ ) Lastly, the researchers studied whether positive wall posts (as opposed to negative ones) raised the physical attractiveness ratings of profile owners. The results confirmed that context effects for physical attractiven ess occur in the same pattern as previous studies of offline interactions Physical attractiveness was also found to have a positive correlation with s ocial attractiveness, while task attractiveness and credibility showed no correlation. Positive wall post s yielded higher task attractiveness ratings and social attractiveness ratings than negative posts. Female targets were rated as more attractive when their profile pages contained positive wall posts, but the reverse pattern was found for male targets. The se results serve as further evidence that Facebook can be a plentiful source of informatio n to be used to evaluate others in social monitoring processes similar to those that researchers have observed in offline contexts. The research cited above demonstra tes that people using social media for coveillance of their peers are not only evaluating these peers over the Internet, but they are also engaging in a process of constant evaluation of the information they find. This kind of evaluation existed long
15 befor e social media did, but i t is possible that the large amounts of socially relevant information available online forces people to engage in it more frequently to filter information and figure out what data to absorb and what data to ignore even if the stud y conducted by Marcus, Machilek, & Shtz ignored data may often be useful The process of evaluation necessary to make these kinds of decisions is one that research suggests individuals who are high in the need to evaluate are likely to enj oy, indicating that these individuals might be drawn to use social media more intensely than others. Furthermore, t he above studies demonstrate that the information people use to make social judgments both in non virtual contexts and in experimental settin gs is available through online social media. Gosling, Ko, Mannarelli, and Morris to online environments, as is the use of context effects to evaluate people through the photos they have posted on their Facebook p ro file s A recent survey revealed college and graduate which serves as further evidence that some of the social pr ocesses that people used to engage each other in person are moving to the realm of social media Individuals seeking to monitor and judge their peers as they might do in f ace to face interactions can, to some extent, satisfy this need using the social evid ence they discover online. Herein lies one possible reason for the significantly larger number of female Facebook users than male Facebook users (Facebook Statistics, 2010) Despite sensational ist media reports casting social networking websites as prime h unting grounds for sexual predators taking advantage of young users who are not wary enough to follow Internet guidelines for maintaining their safety and privacy (Marwick, 2008) sitting at home on the computer using
16 Facebook is surely safer than most for ms of recreational social interaction outside the home, for both males and females However, the reason claimed by religious people in the Muslim travel outside the home is not so different in more secular realm of the Western world 1995, p. 159) position of men in society makes women in particular the frequent tar gets of unwanted physical contact when they are out in public, As hollow of a substitute for face to face social interaction as online communication may be, studies showing peopl e using Facebook for social monitoring demonstrate that at least some aspects of offline interaction translate fairly well to online contexts, especially those likely to be appealing to individuals with a high need to evaluate. Perhaps part of the reason t hat Facebook has so many female users is that the prospect of navigating Facebook seems safe r to many women than that of navigating public streets to get to other places, and this difference in safety is more pronounced for women than for men. There is amp le evidence that th is kind of danger is a n insidious component of typical social interaction on college campuses, where Facebook is especially popular Some estimates put the proportion of college students who use Facebook at around 85% (Arrington, 2005) and unsurprisingly, its function in helping Middle East and North African revolutionaries plan gatherings for political demonstrations also makes it a popular way for students to plan gatherings for campus parties (Luke, 2009, p. 90 ), many of which take pl ace at fraternity houses and nearby bars The loud music and close quarters of many campus bars c reat e circumstances conducive to abuse, and s everal social science researchers have blamed the organizational structure of
17 through systems of (Schwartz & DeKeseredy, 1997, pg. 1) Sexual violence prevention and technologies o f gender among heavy drinking college women examines the various ways some of them unintentional in which participants negotiate the risk s of unwanted sexual contact in the context of college campus part ies She focuses specifically on three categories of strategies that she found to be commonly enacted in these one an other One of these, s he labels judging other women, distancing oneself from other women, blaming victims, and den emphasis mine). Here is evidence that the physical remoteness of online interaction is just one reason why women might be more drawn to Facebook as well as a practical example of why women might be sociali zed into developing a higher need to evaluate by the demands of heterosexual social interaction Evaluating others is, in this case a defensive practice of disciplined femininity. Casting others as inviting excessive sexual attention by violating norms of feminine dress and (93) not of only devalued others, but of all women and the practice has been established by sociological literature s a crucial component of the reproduction of The way Luke describes makes it clear that there is a strong evaluative element to it: The practice most often requires two steps. The involves evaluating another female pa rticipant in party culture by two interrelated criteria: (1) how successfully she performed or accomplished normative femininity and (2) how well her actions matched or failed to match what the interviewee
18 partying. In the s econd step, the individual in contrast to the failures (p. 94) The specific choices made by the devalued others that are described by the s ubjects study are certainly ones that are easily discernable in online contexts Many of them, such as w earing minimal clothing [and] going to the wrong types of bars (i.e., (95) are the kind of decisions that are made readily apparent on the Internet through social media by millions of college students every day perhaps most prominently through the sharing of Facebook photos. Clearly, the women in this study are not so averse to social interaction that they attempt to avoid i t by staying at home in front of their computers. However, if they so choose, the danger all women routinely face in social situations can be simultaneously avoided by interacting from afar through social media and negotiated by practicing defensive evalua tion of others via their Facebook profiles. This kind of social monitoring motivation ha s been demonstrated to result in higher intensity of Facebook use. A 2008 study by Joinson asked participants free response questions investigating their purposes in an d gratifications from using Facebook. H e derived seven categories of factors explaining these purposes and gratifications that represent ed seven common themes Joinson identified these two categories as indicators of surveillance gratification. The study found that people who rated these two Facebook functions as their most important reasons for using the site were significantly more like ly to visit frequently s motivate
19 monitoring, and that frequent use of the site is motivated in part by the need for surveillance and evaluation of peers. Perhaps deferring to what k might call have been found to eschew explicit self descriptions and activity listings in favor of more implicit for positive remarks from others are more effective than self Approximately half of respondents in this study cited personal reasons fo r using the Internet to gather inf ormation about one another. This research reveals users recognizing the greater validity of high warrant information and sharing it in order to create a more believable online users investigati ng each other through Facebook. Again, these studies demonstrate both differential evaluation of information beyond what is necessary for reliable decision making and processes of peer to peer coveillance taking place on social media websi tes such as Facebook. In light of all this, I believe that those who exhibit a high need to evaluate (Jarvis and Petty, 1996) will be more likely to use Facebook, spend more of their time using the site, and have more friends on Facebook than people with a low need to evaluate. The Need to Evaluate Individuals who exhibit a high need to evaluate tend to more chronicall y en gage in evaluation of the people and objects in their environments than people who are low in this measure. Jarvis & Petty (1996) have developed a
20 measure known as the Need to Evaluate scale to measure individual differences in this personality trait. Indi social behaviors, as will be explored further in the following pages. The scale has been found to be a better predictor of these behaviors than similar scales measuring other personality traits, including the Need for Cognition Scale (Cacioppo, Petty & Kao, 1984), the Desire for Control Scale (Burger & Cooper, 1979), the Internal Versus External Control Scale (Rotter, 1966), the Personal Need for Structure Scale (Neuberg & Newsome, 1993), the Need for Closure Scale (Webster & Kruglanski, 1994), the Self Monitoring Scale (Snyder, 1974), the Affect Intensity Scale (Larsen, Diener & Emmons, 1986), and the Marlowe Crowne Social Desirability Scale (Crown e & Marlowe, 1964). High need to evaluate people are more likely to spontaneously evaluate information and ex periences as either good or bad. Spontaneity is a key part of the definition of this trait: regardless of whether or n ot the decision making processes they face during the course of their everyday lives require them to do so individuals who are high need to evaluate are more likely to make judgments of the artifacts in their environment They also report their opinions more quickly, possibly because they are in the habit of accessing them more frequently and because they are more likely to have formed them already and can therefore eas il y recall them from memory On the other hand, individuals who measure low in the need to evaluate report opinions more slowly possibly because they are mor e likely to need to construct one by retrieving the relevant information from their memory, integrating it into a coherent mental construct, and evaluating it on the spot (Tormala & Petty, 1999). The items on the Need to Evaluate scale consist of two gener al types of questions: one dealing with the number of opinions a person holds and another examining the strength of those opinions.
21 There are several behaviors that have been demonstrated to be affected by to evalua te individuals are more likely to report having attitudes on many issues of social and political significance than low need to evaluate individuals. They will also typically articulate more evaluative thoughts when asked to write about unfamiliar, abstract work s of art In other words, people with a high need to evaluate are less likely than others to be content with simply absorbing stimuli; instead, they enjo y the process of assessing their positive and negative qualities (Jarvis and Petty, 1996). In the populations they surveyed, Jarvis and Petty found significant variation in the need to evaluate. Research indicates that the need to evaluate is distinct from other personality traits with which it shows modest positive correlations demonstrating that it may measure an aspect of personality that has gone previously unmeasured hypothesis having some of these other traits might be expected to increase interest in online social networking. Research has show n that the need to evaluate correlates positively with extraversion (Tuten and Bosnjak, 2001; r = .24, p < .05), a trait that is associate d with individuals having larger circles of friends than more introverted people Facebook is known to have a signific antly larger number of female than male users (Facebook, 2010). An early idea for the hypothesis of this paper had the need for affect (a trait concerning the drive for emotional stimulation that is generally stronger in women) in place of the need to eval uate, until the latter was found to have a firmer basis in the existing sociological literature as it related to factors that might drive social media use. The most prominent example of this is that the need to evaluate appeared to have more potential conn ections with the role that Facebook has taken in recent political conflicts It has been found to be positively correlated with the need for affect (Maio and Esses, 2001;
22 Larsen, Diener & Emmons, 1986; r = .17, p < .05) The fact that so many women are on Facebook and that extraversion correlates with larger social networks suggest that these two may also indicate a correlation between Facebook use and the need to evaluate, which would be demonstrat ed by a In the previous discussion of coveillance, i t was mentioned that people have been found to use Facebook to gather social information about their families and friends However, one study found that subjects s ee the site more as a source of entertainment than information (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007). An explanation for these contradictory findings is suggested by Wellman, Haase, Witte, & Hampton (2001), who claim that online interactions may supplement or replace those found in voluntary social organizations such as se rvice clubs and sports leagues. At the same time that these groups serve as a source of recreation, they also serve as sites of communal information exchange. Similarly, as Facebook users b rowse the site as a fun way to spend their free time, they may be only vaguely aware that they are simultaneously absorbing and evaluating information about their friends. This may present further evidence that, if sites like Facebook are indeed replacing the kind of face to face gatherings described by Wellman, Haase, Witte, & Hampton social media is not only taking over some of the surveillance functions of social interaction, but it is also serving a similar function to that of face to face interaction by serving as a source of entertainment and recreation. Studies have suggested that this movement towards remote interaction may not take as serious a toll on civic commitment as Putnam (2000) suggests in his book, Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival o f
23 American Community and the recent uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa indicate that social media pose anything but a threat to political activism in other countries as well. Some researchers have found that, because the Internet can obscure th e effects of physical appearance and physical distance, it encourages heterogeneous people to meet and discuss political issues in a safe, neutral online community (McKenna and Bargh, 2000). This ss in assisting foreign political activists operating under oppressive regimes. These uprisings have almost uniformly pushed for greater democratic freedoms, and e ncountering heterogeneous ideas as social media might be expected to encourage is critical in democratic politics, where reconsidering views and opinions can be the first step on the road to civic action. Such discussions are posited to be more likely to take place between people who have evaluated current issues to form strong political opinions, opinions that are more likely to be held by people who measure high on the Need to Evaluate Scale, suggesting a link between the use of online social media for political discussion and th is personality trait o central to survival, so universal through behavioral manifestatio ns, that they likely reflect a ( Berntson, Boysen, & Cacioppo, 1992, p. 79 80) They are distinguished from other kinds of response biases in two ways: the definite categorization of a stimulus as either positive or negative a nd the activation of behavioral impulses to approach or avoid that stimulus. At the most basic levels of the brain, these impulses are often closely tied to highly specific survival responses, such as the reflex to withdraw from sources of pain. The need t o evaluate, however,
24 measures differences at higher levels of cognitive functioning and their expressions in responses such as attitudes. These differences go beyond what is necessary for survival, but an examination of the potential evolutionary purposes they might serve is beyond the scope of this paper. Suffice to say that everyone has some need to evaluate, but that the measure of this trait is designed to sort out which individuals have more than others. Evaluation has long been assumed by researchers & Petty, 1996, p. 172). Evidence for this assumption basically falls into one of four categories: factor analysis of adjective ratings, research demonstrating an automatic activation of attitudes, the ease most people have in reporting their attitudes towards a great variety of objects, and largely theoretical literature on the functionality of attitudes. Jarvis and Petty contend that the structured nature of research into evaluative asso ciations forces participants into evaluating objects and cannot therefore be used reporting attitudes, they also cite an argument that in situations where subject s are given the option to not give a response, people may report attitudes towards objects despite having no particular opinion on those objects (Converse, 1964, 1970). According to Jarvis and Petty, the need to evaluate can be used to measure real differe attitudes about people and objects in their environment. The need to evaluate is a potentially important issue for the study o f attitudes, and the concept of attitudes is essential to a great deal of social psy cholog ical and sociological research. Soci al scientists are interested in t he need to evaluate for a number of reasons, including using it that are demanded by many of t
25 & Petty, 1996, p. 175) This could introduce a confounding varia ble into these attitude studies, and the pervasive assumption in the research community of an equal tendency towards evaluation T he idea of the need to evaluate gives researchers the opportunity to measure this variable and introduce controls for it into their studies, and possibly used it to determine which individuals for whom the social psychological theories that result from the ir studies might be more applicable. Since its introduction by Jarvis and Petty, t he need to evaluate is a concept that has been gaining ascendency in academic litera ture on social psychology, and i f it was found to be a significant factor in determining pat terns of use of online social networking media such as Facebook, it could help illuminate reasons why such websites are so popular. Social media deserves the attention of sociologists not only for its political implications but because it is a new technolo writing, Facebook is the second most visited website on the Internet after Google (Alexa, 2010). n et al., 2007, p. 2): the average user spends slightly less than an hour a day on the site, and t he majority 500 million active users log in at least once daily (Facebook, 2010). Internet Use, Facebook Use, and Social Capital Online activit y has been linked to individual differences in offline production of social capital, an extensive and well established concept recently defi ned as
26 sense of mutual obligation that people can derive value from. It is understood as the glue that holds together social aggregates such as networks of person al relationships, communities, Huysman and Wulf, 2004, p. 1). something that politically inclined people who use social media to pursu e their various agendas ends need to hold together their causes. If using sites like Facebook was shown to be effective in building social capital this would serve as evidence that people with strong political views, who have been demonstrated to be more likely to be high in the need to ev aluate than others, might als o have a greater incentive to use social media. As useful as socia l capital is to everyone, it is plausible that it might be more useful to civic minded people who place a great deal of importance on using their social ties to bring about political change. Social capital enables individuals to access information and opportunities which have been demonstrated to have the potential to confer economic advantage that may not exist within their circle of close personal connections (Granovetter, 1973 ; Granovett er, 2004 ). These weak ties which exist between people who do not share a close friendship, have been referred social capital, on the other hand, exists wit hin tight, emotionally bonded relationships with immediate family and close fr iends (Ellison et al., 2007, p. 8 ). survey questions on their number of Facebook friends and the amount of time spent on the site, routine (Ellison et al., 2007, p. 13 ). They found that general Internet use did not have a
27 significant effect on bridging or bonding social capital, but that subjects who score high on Facebook intensity report having more of both. They also found that subjects who were low in life satisfact ion and self esteem appeared to accrue more bridging capital by using Facebook more intensely, and the possible confounding interactions between intensity of Facebook use and these two psychological measures were not significant. R ecent studies similar to communication correlates positively with participation in the politics of community life (Kobayahi, Ikeda, & Miyata, 2006; Rsnen, P. & Kouvo, A., 2007). More specifically, a 2008 study found moderate political engagement and civic participation (Valenzuela, Park, & Kee 2009 ). As mentioned earlier, the need to evaluate is positively correlated with self reporting attitudes on social and political issues (Jarvis & Petty, 1996), hinting at a possible (albeit indirect) relationship between Internet use and the need to evaluate. The finding that intense Facebook use (as defined by Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe) is correlated with greater social capital raises some issues of social justice. As social media researcher Dana Boyd notes: Facebook started as a Harvard only social network site before expanding to support all Ivy League schools and then top tier colleges and then a wider array of colleges. Because of its potential participants while repelling others ( 2010 p. 8).
28 In the mid previously held the distinction of being the most popular social networking site in the United States, to Facebook, which currently holds that title: Teens from less privileged backgrounds seemed likely to be drawn to MySpace while t hose headed towards elite ethnic divisions looked messier, tied strongly to socio economic factors, but I observed that black and Latino teens appeared to preference MySpace while white and Asi an teens seemed to privilege Facebook (p. 9 10). If individuals can gain bridging social capital by utilizing Facebook more intensely, might the kind of online racial segregation seen discussed above prevent the less privileged users of MySpace from build ing bridges to Facebook users with access to more social capital? Studies similar to the ones that have found positive correlations between Facebook use and social capital have not been done for MySpace. Although Facebook began in the universities of the I vy League the reasons for the more privileged status of a typical Facebook user are not clear given that the site is now open to registrati on by any member of the public. However, Boyd suggests that the higher socioeconomic standing of its user base comp ared to other social networking sites might lead to the formation of social capital between Facebook users to the exclusion of users of other social networking sites, which may perpetuate the real world race and class divisions that help keep economic capi tal out of the hands of traditionally disadvantaged groups. Although both Facebook and MySpace are now open for League students is, to some extent, reflected in the demographics of its current user base. If
29 privileged users of, for example, MySpace, t his research suggests that this virtual segregation might be reinforc ing tra ditional patterns of segregation. Even if MySpace use was found to build social capital among its users, research suggests that the segregation between the two virtual communities is preventing the less privileged user base of MySpace from building potenti ally advantageous connections to the more well off users of Facebook and their more fortunate networks of friends It has already been mentioned that political participation and the need to evaluate are positively correlated If this study had also found a positive correlation between the need to evaluate and Facebook use, this would suggest that the socioeconomic gulf between the MySpace and Facebook users might be reinforced by a lack of political motivation in the user base of the former when compared to the latter Although this could not then be confirmed without another study examining the relationship between MySpace and the need to evaluate, mention of this social networking website has been conspicuously absent among discussions of Facebook, YouTube foreign political arenas. If it does not hold as much potential for promoting activism it is possible that Facebook does because of some ( almost certainly l and economic status and a greater propensity for civic action. One way social status is established online is through a process Shankar (2008) calls access to desirable goo ds or services. This is not a phenomenon that only takes place online, but that are personalized as an expression of a kind of digital fashion (20 10, p. 22 ).
30 She notes the contrast between the highly customizable design of MySpace profiles which some of her interview subjects said allow people to design personal fro nt pages that are ( p. 23) and the minimal aesthetic of Facebook pages, a design choice that is typical of bourgeois fashion (Arnold, 2001). The non customizability of the latter site give it a more unified and homogenous design, which some MySpace users s ee as restrictive of the free expression Examples like this indicate that users of social media reflect their social status in their online personas and expect others to judg e them accordingly. An inclination to judge ot hers, as one would expect in high need to evaluate individuals, might create this kind of expectation. Social networking shows no signs of becoming less important anytime in the near future. Its popularity and its role in recent political events belie its short history and put it on track to quickly reach and perhaps eventually surpass, the levels of social influence achieved by older more established forms of media. It serves as a new and important site of interpersonal communication and identity formati on. For these reasons, examining the factors that motivate people to use websites like Facebook should be a focus of sociological and psychological research. Chapter 3: Method Survey Design For this study, the N eed to E valuate S cale was included in a surv ey, along with questions about respondents basic demographics and their Facebook use intensity. This latter set of The method of the survey was chosen because previous studies using the Nee d to Evaluate Scale also utilized a survey as
31 their instrument. A complete version of the survey that was used for this study can be found in Appendix A. The survey was administered online in an email to the student listserv in an effort to give every stud ent at the small liberal arts college at which this study was conducted an opportunity to join the sample. The online method of recruitment was easier and more efficient than a paper based survey. It allowed for easily collecting and compiling responses, e liminated the need for any data entry, and streamlined the process of eliminating incomplete survey responses. The sample was presumed to be more representative of the general population than a sample gathered on Facebook or through some other website bec ause it would be more likely to include people who might not already be established users of social media. Administering the survey on Facebook would also alter the very behavior this study is examining, biasing responses towards higher intensity of Facebo ok use. Individual responses wer email address. In accordance with the level of IRB permissions obtained for this study, s ubjects were asked to verify that they were older than 18 years before answering any other items At the time the survey was closed, at total of 125 respondents had completed every item on it ( Cronbach's alpha = .81). Respondents that did not answer every item were excluded from analysis as part of the final sample. The mean age of respondents was 20. 6 years ( = 1.75) and 80% of them were female. The mean age corresponded with what one would expect of an undergraduate student population. A higher number of female respondents is similarly expected from a school with an approximately 40 : 60 male : female ratio, although 80% female respondents is a particularly high proportion. Because females are more likely than males to use Facebook, it is possible that
32 males without Facebook profiles did not complete the survey after seeing t he page containing t he Facebook in tensity items. People who did not complete t he survey may have skipped through to see the whole thing before making the decision to quit (IRB guidelines do not allow setting up surveys in a way that would require participants to answer questions before pro ceeding) This first part of the survey using Jarvis e was used to obtain individual s o n the personality measure of the need to evaluate. Particip ants were asked to rate the extent to which each of the items on the scale were characteristic of them, on a five point scale labeled extremely uncharacteristic (1), somewhat uncharacteristic (2), uncertain (3), somewhat characteristic (4), a nd extremely c haracteristic (5) It is very important to me to hold strong opinions Reverse I am pretty much indiffere nt to many important represented by the equation (6 response). For example, a response of 4 to a reverse scored question is 2. These questions will, on average, yield lower scores for people with a higher need to evaluate. The purpose of including all of the questions on the scale w as to determine the inc lination respondents have to judge people and objects in their environment as being positive or negative, as described previously in the discussion of the need to evaluate. Individual scores were calculated by adding the values for each question on the sca le. The sixteen items on the Need to Evaluate Scale were shuffled with six distracter items, esteem scale (1965) and the remainder le (1969 ) These distracter
33 items have nothing to do with this research question this thesis aims to explore; their only purpose is to reduce the bias of responses by making it more difficult for responders to determine what trait t he survey is actually me asuring thus reducing the possibility of an y observer expectancy bias ( Brunswik, 1956 ) Subjects might be inclined to (consciously or otherwise) manipulate their responses if they figured out what the study aims to measure, either because of a desire to p rovide socially desirable answers or a desire to influence the results of the study. The six distractor items were chosen specifically for their similarity in tone and length to the need to evaluate items I am able to do thin g s as well as mo and I wish I cou T he second part of the survey assessed the intensity of Face book use, as well as askin g a couple of questions about demographics. These two questions inquired about the age a nd gender of respondents and were included both for descriptive purposes and to determine if there was any correlation between them and Facebook intensity measures or need to evaluate scores. Sample I expect ed to find significant variation in the need to evaluate in the subjects in my sample simply because e ven if the entire population of college students was high in the need to evaluate compared to the larger population of college age people in general, the former group makes up a large enough proportion of the latter that the expected distribution of scores among college students should still be somewhat variable, as long as we assume that college age people fall into a normal pattern of distribution. As mentioned earlier, about 85% of college students h ave been estimated to have Facebook profiles so similarly, Facebook users make up
34 an overwhelmingly large proportion of the population of college students. As will be discussed in chapter 5, this may reduce the strength of the correlation measured in this thesis. This study w as limited to a population that is the student body of a single small li beral arts college. Everyone in the population has access to computers, so the availability of the Internet to subjects can be ruled out as a confounding variable. The sample may have be en different f or a similar study of the student body of several different universities or at a single larger university (by containing a higher proportion of men, for example). Caution must therefore be observed in generalizing resul ts to all college stu dents. Analysis The SAS 9.2 software package was used Pearson gender, age, and Facebook intensity items as well as their tot al scores on the need to evaluate scale in order to determine if the survey data supported the hypothesis that there is a correlation between Finally, t test s w ere performed on the need to evaluate scores to determine if there were significant differences in this measure between male and female respondents and between reported ages Chapter 4: Results scores. Subjects reported spending a mean of 63.9 minutes per day on Facebook ( = 202) and r ( = 5.75) The wide variation in
35 Table 1 Survey results Gender Male: 25 (20%) Female: 100 (80%) -Age Mean: 20.6 years Standard deviation: 1.75 Range: 18 31 Need to Evaluate score Mean: 47.8 Standard deviation: 9.40 Range: 21 57 Minutes per day spent on Facebook Mean: 63.9 Standard deviation: 202 Range: 0 240 Daily visits to Facebook Mean: 5.96 Standard deviation: 5.75 Range: 0 30 Table 2 Intercorrelations Between Survey Items (r, p, and df) Age Gender Minutes per day Times per day Facebook friends Need to evaluate scale Age -0.02514 0.7782 128 0.12727 0.1539 127 0.04354 0.6 311 124 0.08404 0.3475 127 0.02351 0.7963 123 Gender -0.05392 0.5455 128 0.15117 0.0924 125 0.04348 0.6260 128 0.02455 0.7867 124 Minutes per day -0.09060 0.3150 125 0.09897 0.2664 128 0.02919 0.7476 124 Times per day -0.16922 0.0592 125 0.00478 0.9583 122 Facebook friends -0.02145 0.8131 124 Need to evaluate scale -responses to these two items indicates that subjects may have had difficulty in estimating the extent of their Facebook use. As will be discussed in the next section, one or both of these figures is likely to be underreported, drastically altering the outcome of the study.
36 This variation also indicates that the remarkably large proportion of college students who have Facebook profiles may belie the extent to which Facebook is actually an important part of their daily lives. Peer pressure to actually use the site is probably not typically as high as peer pressure to establish an identity on it by simply creating a profile. The hypothesis of this thesis would su ggest that this peer pressure might come about as a result of high need to evaluate individuals attempting to subsume as many of their friends into the coveillance mechanism of online social media as possible, allowing others to tag them in photos and vide os even if those friends are not themselves active users. Wha tever the reason, this phenomenon is no secret: there are countless groups T he mean number of Facebook friends was 361 (respons es ranged from 0 to 1,464 after excluding an outlier of 1,000,000). Because this number is far greater than the number of people anyone can socialize with on a regular basis and count as close family or friends, it is in accord with the research cited prev iously that points to Facebook as a source of bridging social capital. with who m the typical respondent will only interact in person occasionally. The mean need to evaluate score was 47.8 ( = 9.40), with a minimum score of 23 and a maximum of 68. As will be discussed in the next section, this is very close to the mean and standard deviations obtained in other studies utilizing the Need to Evaluate Scale, showing a similarity betw een the sample examined in this study and the samples (also of undergraduate students) examined in these other studies. This suggests that, although the survey used for this thesis may not have accurately measured Facebook intensity, it successfully assess
37 need to evaluate scores. It is not known whether scores might show different distributions in studies of a non student population. No significant correlation was found between any of the five variables mentioned in the previous paragraph or r correlation was found between number of daily visits to Facebook and number of friends on the site (p = .059; df = 125; r = .169). The t test performed on the need to evaluate scores fou nd an approximately normal distribution in the sample (See Appendix B ). Meaningful personality measures should show this kind of distribution, so this test confirms validity as a useful measure of personality Chapter 5: Discussion The absence of a significant correlation between certain pairs of these survey items was particularly unexpected. At the very least, one would expect a positive relationship between some pair of the items for minutes per day spent on Facebook, daily visit s to the site, and number of Facebook friends, since these all aim at measuring intensity of use. study found significant positive correlations between these three variables. Had enough respondents without Facebook accounts submitted respons es of zero for all three of these items some positive correlations would have resulted, but this would neither support the need to evaluate hypothesis examined in this thesis nor would it have been a particularly intriguing outcome. It is possible that su bjects underreported information about Facebook use out of difficulty in recalling details of their daily habits, trouble putting their behavior into concrete numerical terms, or, intentionally or not, by basing their responses on some personal estimate
38 of an ideal response. The mean of just under six visits to Facebook per day seems very likely to be a resul t of significant underreporting. T he data gathered for this survey indicate that each visit to Fa cebook takes ten minutes, a duration which recent rese arch suggest s is too long (iMedia, 2006). The approximately one hour per day average found by this study is remarkably close t o the official corporate statistic reported on the website itself (Facebook Statistics, 2010) so it seems likely that the low rep orted number of visits per day is responsible for the high f igure for average visit length. In future studies with a larger budget, this issue might be addressed by using more sophisticated methods of measuring use, such as to record their Facebook activity via a software program installed directly on their computers. U nderreporting for Facebook use intensity variables The lack of corr elation even between number of Facebook friends, time spent on the site per day, and number of daily visits seems to reveal a systematic error in data collection. Future studies can avoid this pitfall by using the above mentioned methods of data collection which are much less susceptible to mistakes subjects may make in their responses. As mentioned earlier, individuals who score high on the need to evaluate scale are more likely than others to have opinions on issues of social and political significance. New College has Most Politically Active Students regarded liberal arts colleges, it has a reputation for attracting critical minds and honing their critical thi nking skills even further. It is possible that this study found no correlation because its sample is biased towards the higher end of the Need to Evaluate Scale although the mean and median scores were in the middle of the possible range of scores and did not significantly different than the ones found in other studies utilizing the
39 scale (which it should be noted, also had undergraduate students as their subjects). None of the literature reviewed in this thesis mentio n whether mean need to evaluate score s might be lower in samples of the general, non student population. The response rate of women for this survey, which is high even when the higher proportion of women in the population is taken into account, may in part be attributable to the larger number of women using Facebook. It is possible that some men taking the survey did not complete it when they reached the section about Facebook intensity perhaps because they are do not use Facebook or because use it very infrequently role in the recent political conflicts discussed previously were one of the stimuli for my interest in the topic of Facebook, and the concept of the need to evaluate appeared to be a promising one for tying this interest to the more sociological one of hor izontal social monitoring between peers. If the survey had confirmed my hypothesis that high need to evaluate individuals are m ore likely to use Facebook, it would have had important implications for the previously mentioned issues of building social capit al and negotiating sexual violence. Nonetheless, these are significant issues that deserve further research and exploration. investigation of the need to evaluate, also s uggests directions for future research. Cacioppo, Gardner and a more accurate model for measuring attitudes employs a two variable scale, that takes into account both positive and negative evaluative processes as opposed to a single bipolar continuum with positive and negative assessments at either end suggests some key questions about the extent to which the enormous popularity of websites like Facebook might obscure aspects of online social networking that its users mig ht
40 find problematic. As is the case with many ubiquitous technologies, the intuitive assumption spectacular heights because its users have unambiguously positive attitudes about its effect on thei r lives and on society as a whole is for quick and easy communication in a dynamic and lively online environment, the desire to participate in someth ing that is new and popular, or ( as this study failed to find but which a similar study using more rigorous methods might find) their need to frequently evaluate new information. alongsid e factors that might inhibit Facebook use, such as the need for privacy and a preference for face to face communication. This kind of coexistence fits with the dual model of motivational systems studied by Carver and White (1994), which includes a behavior al inhibition broad affective quality (the BAS to positive affect and the BIS to negative affect) and to be p. 319 320). In other words, Cacioppo, Gardner and two system model of behavior, and as important as attitudes are, behavior is really what the study conducted for this thesis and othe r studies like it set out to measure. In light of this, future research might examine factors that discourage social media use as well as seeking out correlations between use of social media and traits other than the need to evaluate that might encourage it, such as the need for affect or extraversion. It is possible that one of these other personality traits has a stronger effect on Facebook use than the need to evaluate, and that underreporting of Facebook intensity by survey respondents is only part of the problem. These
41 possible confounding variables offer several potential directions for further research into the motivations for Facebook use. The relationship between the kind of discussed study and the need to ev aluate also offers promising possibilities for future research. Although proportion of Facebook users who are women suggests that their use of the website for the pr ocess might offer greater potential for further exploration. Most of the studies cited in this thesis cast the need to evaluate in a fairly positive light, but researchers might be forced to reconsider this stance if it were found to make people more likel y to engage in this socially harmful and defensive process. F urther research on factors affecting social media use will continue to be important as sites like Facebook continue to grow in popularity, playing a key role in the social life of millions and be coming ever larger factors in both domesti c and foreign political arenas. nations of the Middle East and North Africa, an area that plays a key role in international affairs, is fu rther proof of its impor tance to sociological research. Chapter 6: Conclusion Online social media have shown explosive growth in popularity over the past several years. Websites like Facebook have played a prominent role in the politics of both the Unite d States and various foreign countries, assisting activists in fomenting at least two revolutions against oppressive regimes and sparking innumerable protests throughout the Middle East and Africa many of which are still currently ongoing Revolutionaries
42 intensity of Facebook use and their inclination to form strong opinions. Research supporting monitoring, the evaluative nature of peer to peer coveillance, and the political inclinations of individuals scoring high on the need to evaluate scale offered a further indication of a possible correlation. Using data collected from a survey, this study set out to test the hypothesis that there is a significant correlation between scores on and both the amount of time individuals spend on Facebook and their number of Facebook friends. The data do not support the h ypothesis, revealing no significant correlations between responses to any of the survey items. Possible reasons for these negative findings include a population that may fall on the higher end of the need to evaluate spectrum and underreporting of the amou nt need to evaluate scores, but future research might use more sophisticated methods for gathering intensity of Facebook use data.
43 Appendix A : Survey Page 1 Con sent You are invited to participate in an online research study. You will be asked to answer survey questions, including some assessing your personality traits. All survey respondent information will be anonymous. Your participation will take approximately 5 minutes. Data collected from this confidential survey will be used for a senior thesis at New College of Florida. The information gathered will be used for sociology research. You must be 18 years of age or older to participate. You will not be paid fo r your participation in this study. Your privacy is important. The data obtained from you will be combined with data from respondents, and will not include your name, email address, or any other information that could be used to personally identify you in any way. This study has been approved by the Institutional Review Board at New College of Florida. You may withdraw your consent at any time and discontinue participation without penalty. You are not waiving any legal claims or rights because of your par ticipation in this study. New College of Florida does not have funds budgeted for compensation for injury, damages, or other expense. If you have any questions regarding your rights as a research subject, contact the Chair of the Committee for the Protecti on of Human Research Participants at New College at 941.487.4649. If this study causes you significant psychological distress, please contact the Counseling and Wellness Center at 941.487.4254.
44 You may print this page and save it in case you wish to ask a ny questions about this research in the future. All inquiries should be directed to the principal investigator, H. Greeley Dawson, at firstname.lastname@example.org. By choosing 'Yes' in the following space, I agree that I have fully read this informed consent for m describing this research project. I understand that I am being asked to participate in research. I understand the risks and benefits, and I freely give my consent to participate in the research project outlined in this form, under the conditions indicate d in it. Yes Page 2 Psychological Assessment Please rat e the extent to which each of the items on the following scale is characteristic of you as either: extremely characteristic, somewhat characteristic, uncertain, somewhat characteristic, or extrem ely characteristic. I form opinions about everything. I am able to do things as well as most other people. I prefer to avoid taking extreme positions. It is very important to me to hold strong opinions. I want to know exactly what is good and bad about eve rything. There are many things for which I do not have a preference. It bothers me to remain neutral.
45 I like to have strong opinions even when I am not personally involved. I believe that most of us could love many different people equally well; there is n o "one true love" which is "meant to be." I often prefer to remain neutral about complex issues. If something does not affect me, I do not usually determine if it is good or bad. I have many more opinions than the average person. I take a positive attitude towards myself. I would rather have a strong opinion than no opinion at all. I pay a lot of attention to whether things are good or bad. I only form strong opinions when I have to. I wish I could have more respect for myself. I like to decide that new things are really good or really bad. I am pretty much indifferent to many important issues. Page 3 Demographics and Facebook Use What is your age? With which gender do you identify ? Male Female On average, how many minutes do you spend on Facebook per day? If you do not use
46 On average, how many times a day do you visit Facebook? If you do not use How many Facebook friends do Page 4 Thank You! Thanks for taking my survey! I hope you enjoyed it. Appendix B: Distribution of Need to Evaluate Scores
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