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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

Shy people find social strength in Facebook

The 11,523 in the Facebook group titled, “I hate being shy!” would all probably agree with recent research found by a Marquette faculty member and graduate student about the social networking site — not that they’d ever talk loud enough for you to hear them say it.

The study, published earlier this month and authored by Marquette professor of psychology Debra Oswald and graduate student Levi Baker, found evidence that shy people who use social networking sites feel more satisfied with their friendships, and also feel a greater sense of social support from the site than more outgoing individuals.

On the other hand, people who said they were not shy did not report social media as having as great an impact on these aspects of their life.

The study sampled 241 Marquette students from 2005 to 2006 and had students complete a survey that asked questions ranging from how happy they are in their life to their amount of Facebook use.

“It seems that people of that (shy) group benefited most from Facebook or online communication in general,” Baker said. He is currently working on completing his doctorate in psychology by 2012.

“Shy people generally have more reservations in talking or approaching people they hardly know or that they just met,” he said. “But it seems they don’t feel the same inhibitions on-line, a more comfortable environment for them.”

Baker said that the idea for the study came back in 2005, when he and Oswald were looking to conduct research on the relatively new phenomenon of Facebook and other social networking websites.

“At first we wanted to see if people were more likely to interact with random people or their actual friends that they already knew,” he said.

However, they found interaction mainly took place between people who already knew each other, and that among those students, the shy ones who used Facebook more felt a greater sense of social support, Baker said.

Although, Baker said that it is unclear if this ‘spills over’ into face-to-face interactions. He also said this is just an initial step of the research into the ‘complex and polarizing’ issue of whether Internet communication is harmful or beneficial.

According to the report, “Our results refute warnings that computer-mediated communication use might cause shy individuals to become even more socially withdrawn and isolated.”

The researchers cited that shy people can gain information about peers from Facebook that their otherwise withdrawn behavior would have caused them to miss. This is a fact Cody Hartzheim, sophomore in the College of Business Administration, agrees with.

“I’m shy sometimes,” he said. “And when there are times when I want to talk to someone, a Facebook status update might be a good starting point.”

Hartzheim also said Facebook can help him be more social because it is so easy to get a hold of people and talk to them.

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