Does Passive Facebook Use Promote Feelings of Social Connectedness?

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Does Passive Facebook Use Promote Feelings of Social Connectedness?


  • Ilse L. Pit Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, The Netherlands / Institute of Human Sciences, University of Oxford, UK / Calleva Research Centre for Evolution and Human Sciences, Magdalen College, UK
  • Harm Veling Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, The Netherlands / Consumption and Healthy Lifestyles, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands
  • Johan C. Karremans Behavioural Science Institute, Radboud University, The Netherlands


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Abstract:  Previous research has shown that passive social media use does not have the same positive effects on well-being as active social media use. However, it is currently unclear whether these effects can be attributed to the benefits of active use, the costs of passive use, or both. The current article investigated the effect of active and passive Facebook use on feelings of social connectedness after being ostracized. In two preregistered experiments, participants were first ostracized on a faux social media platform, followed by a measurement of social connectedness. In Experiment 1 they were then instructed to either use Facebook passively, use Facebook actively, or use a non-social website (Wikipedia), after which social connectedness was measured again. Results indicated that active Facebook use can restore social connectedness after being ostracized as compared to using a non-social website. While passive Facebook use also restored social connectedness, it did not change social connectedness significantly more so than Wikipedia use. In Experiment 2, we replicated Experiment 1, now focusing only on passive Facebook use compared to a non-social website. Results showed again that passive Facebook use did not influence social connectedness more so than the use of Wikipedia. In exploratory analyses, we found that for participants who felt close to other Facebook users, passive Facebook use did increase social connectedness compared to using a non-social website. These experiments suggest that, even though passive social media use does not restore social connectedness in the same way that active social media use does, it also does not harm social connectedness, and it may actually promote social connectedness under certain circumstances.

Keywords:  Facebook; ostracism; preregistration; social connectedness; social media; social network site

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/mac.v10i2.5004


© Ilse L. Pit, Harm Veling, Johan C. Karremans. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.