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Impact of Type of Facebook Use on Negative Affect Open Access

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The possible association of Facebook use with depressive symptoms has been explored in a growing literature. Some studies found an association of frequency and duration of Facebook use with depressive symptoms and other studies did not. This inconsistency may be due to how studies typically did not consider variations in type of Facebook use. The present study used an experimental design to test the possible causal impact of two dimensions of type of Facebook use on negative affect. These dimensions are engagement (whether the user is passively viewing content or actively creating content) and locus of activity (whether the user is attending to self-oriented content or other-oriented content). Hypothesis 1 stated that exposure to passive engagement experiences will lead to an increase in negative affect relative to active engagement experiences, and hypothesis 2 stated that exposure to self-oriented content will lead to a decrease in negative affect relative to exposure to other-oriented content. The present study also hypothesized that the impact of engagement will be mediated through loneliness and the impact of locus will be mediated through self-esteem and negative social comparison. The sample was composed of 76 undergraduates at a university in the United States. Both hypothesis 1 and hypothesis 2 were unsupported, as no causal impacts for type of Facebook use were found. Results provide some evidence that the dimensions of engagement and locus do not impact negative affect. Future studies that test causal pathways are needed in the Facebook literature.

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