Facebook Profiles Could Help Determine Mental Illness: Study

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By IBTimes Staff Reporter | January 28, 2013 7:52 PM EST

Popular social networking website Facebook could help identify signs of mental illness in a person, according to a new study.

The study conducted by the researchers at the University of Missouri revealed that there is an association between Facebook activity and social anhedonia, a state of reduced pleasure from social interactions and affiliations.

Researchers suggested that a Facebook profile could be used as a potential tool to determine the mental illness which otherwise would have gone unnoticed even with the help of a psychiatrist.

"For example, questionnaires often depend on a person's memory, which may or may not be accurate. By asking patients to share their Facebook activity, we were able to see how they expressed themselves naturally," said study researcher Elizabeth Martin, PTI reported.

"Even the parts of their Facebook activities that they chose to conceal exposed information about their psychological state," she added.

The study said that psychologists can use a person's Facebook page to analyse his/her metal status. The study, titled "Social networking profile correlates of schizotypy", has analysed Facebook profiles of 211 college students. It revealed the correlation between the social anhedonia and the Facebook activities.

The findings also showed that Facebook profiles which have fewer friends and photos tended to have social anhedonia.

"The beauty of social-media activity as a tool in psychological diagnosis is that it removes some of the problems associated with patients' self-reporting," Martin noticed.

The study also suggested that concealing Facebook profiles from others could be a symptom of a higher level of paranoia. However, there was no significant difference between the participants who scored higher and lower on paranoia in terms of the information shared.

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