Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Technogenic flourishing: A mixed methods inquiry into the impact of variable rewards on Facebook users' well-being
by Lucking, Thomas, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2015, 187; 3712632
Abstract (Summary)

The digital landscape that we inhabit offers new ways of cultivating relationships. Humans are programmed to seek social acceptance and avoid social rejection. Facebook taps into this core motivation by offering variable social rewards. Habits are eventually formed that keep users coming back for more rewards. What impact does habituated Facebook use have on relationships and other criteria defined by well-being theories?

The sample for this study was 36 students who were recruited to participate in one or two phases of a sequential mixed methods study. The quantitative phase involved two surveys: the first, a validated instrument; the second, a 38-question survey created for the study to inquire about research participants’ experience using Facebook. For the qualitative phase, four students from the first phase were interviewed to further explore their experience with Facebook and well-being.

A central accomplishment of this study was the creation of a new Facebook well-being survey (FWBS). The design of this survey guided the data analysis which uncovered the key findings of this study. Results were divided into four categories of time that participants spent using Facebook per day. Half of the categories, including the largest, showed a positive correlation between well-being and the amount of time spent creating content.

Overall, participants reported that they spend significantly more time consuming (65%) than creating (35%) Facebook content. The FWBS asked participants to rank their favorite Facebook features from most to least used. Private and public messages were the most popular with Likes ranking high for the creation of content. Participants with very high well-being scores mostly used messaging features while those with very low well-being scores spent their time using other Facebook features in addition to messaging.

Emotions and relationships were the well-being components most impacted by Facebook. Sixty-five percent of participants reported they have unhealthy Facebook habits. Facebook can help with loneliness but is also a distraction, time-killer, and social-crutch. Unless Facebook is used wisely and sparingly it reduces well-being. To be a socially engaged in the Millennial Generation a Facebook account is not optional.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Ferrer, Jorge N., Shirazi, Bahman A.K.
Commitee: Whittaker, Steve
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: East-West Psychology
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-B 76/11(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social psychology, Psychology, Computer science
Keywords: Digital, Flourishing, Millennials, Positive psychology, Technology, Well-being
Publication Number: 3712632
ISBN: 978-1-321-89587-2
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