Facebook Opens Mysteries of Mental Illness Says Study from Missouri

January 28, 2013, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

It was revealed in a study at the University of Missouri that Facebook activity provides a window into the psychological health of the participants.

According to study leader Elizabeth Martin, doctoral student in MU’s psychological science department in the College of Arts and Science, social media profiles could eventually be used as tools for psychologists and therapists.

As Facebook is the world’s most accessed social networking site, this can open the doors to one’s mindset towards various issues. To conduct the study, Martin’s team asked participants to print their Facebook activity and correlated aspects of that activity with the degree to which those individuals exhibited schizotypy, a range of symptoms including social withdrawal to odd beliefs.

Facebook Opens Mysteries of Mental Illness Says Study from Missouri

Some study participants showed signs of the schizotypy condition known as social anhedonia, or the inability to experience pleasure from usually enjoyable activities, such as communicating and interacting with others. In the study, people with social anhedonia tended to have fewer friends on Facebook, communicated with friends less frequently and shared fewer photos.

Other study participants concealed significant portions of their Facebook profile before presenting them to researchers. These participants also showed schizotypal symptoms, known as perceptual aberrations, which are anomalous experiences of one’s senses, and magical ideation, which is the belief that events with no physical cause-and-effect are somehow causally connected.

Hiding Facebook activity also was considered as a sign of higher levels of paranoia. The study “Social Networking Profile Correlates to Schizotypy,” was published in the journal Psychiatry Research.

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