Facebook and Attachment Theory

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Attachment theory states that our behavior in the intimate aspect of our relationships is influenced by our previous relationship experiences. Our different behaviors towards intimacy are categorized under the three "attachment styles": secure, avoidant, and anxious/ambivalent. I thought an interesting application of attachment theory could be found in the emerging world of online social networks.

The most predominant online social network is undoubtedly Facebook. Facebook offers a unique platform for social interaction that favors the avoidant attachment-style individual. In the article "Attachment Styles and Facebook Use", Eloise Zappos outlines the distinguishing characteristics of online social platforms like Facebook: "...greater anonymity, the reduction of the importance of physical cues, greater control over the time and place of the interaction, and the ease of finding similar others" (p. 5). Facebook introduces a social environment that is free from the noise, speed, and craziness of ordinary social life; this means that people who are not very comfortable in the usual social setting can still maintain a social life through Facebook. These people are given the control to create a virtual world that is tailored to their own personality. This type of virtual control also favors people who are not very trusting of others; these people usually require more time and control in creating and maintaining relationships. Avoidant-style individuals fit the profile of people who are both uncomfortable in the face-to-face social environment and generally untrusting of others. Consequently, avoidant-style individuals are very likely to become heavy Facebook users. Indeed, according to Eloise Zappos' analysis, this is the case; avoidant attachment-style individuals are more likely than secure and anxious/ambivalent-style individuals to become heavy users of Facebook.

I think a serious implication for online social networks comes from what Zoppos called "reduced anonymity". While interacting on these online networks, individuals typically are not in a face-to-face engagement; this fact may make people prone to thinking their actions are inconsequential. On the contrary, however, as more people begin to use Facebook, everybody's lives and personal information will become more public and monitored.

arts.monash.edu.au/.../bhs-working-paper-2009-03-zoppos.pdf
http://psychology.about.com/od/loveandattraction/a/attachment01.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_theory

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This page contains a single entry by pulle030 published on November 20, 2011 6:25 PM.

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