Materialists have substantially more Facebook friends than people who are less interested in possessions, a new study has found.
Researchers claim that materialistic people view Facebook friends as “digital objects” and subsequently use the platform more intensely and more frequently.
The study, published in Heliyon, also found that materialists have a greater need to compare themselves to others on other social media platforms.
“Materialistic people use Facebook more frequently because they tend to objectify their Facebook friends – they acquire Facebook friends to increase their possession,” said lead author Phillip Ozimek.
“Facebook provides the perfect platform for social comparisons, with millions of profiles and information about people. And it’s free – materialists love tools that do not cost money!”
Ozimek and his team of researchers from the Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany gathered their data through an online questionnaire carried out on 242 Facebook users.
Participants were asked to state how much they agreed with a series of statements that reflected their activity levels on the platform and their levels of materialism such as: “my life would be better if I owned certain things I don’t have” and “having many Facebook friends contributes to more success in my personal and professional life”.
They found that there were strong links between high levels of materialism and intense Facebook activity.
When the process was repeated on a second sample of 289 Facebook users, the researchers drew the same conclusion.
In order to explain their results, the scientists developed The Social Online Self-Regulation Theory, which states that people use social media as a tool to monitor and achieve their goals.
For materialistic people, it’s about monitoring how far away they are from becoming wealthy, the researchers claim.
“It seems to us that Facebook is like a knife,” added Ozimek.
“It can be used for preparing yummy food or it can be used for hurting a person. In a way, our model provides a more neutral perspective on social media.”