We all love to hate the Facebook friends who use their status updates to describe
in detail the almond crunch granola they had for breakfast.
But as it turns out, that’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are plenty of habits that can turn off your Facebook friends and potential friends, even on a subconscious level.
Below, we’ve highlighted three common, research-backed Facebook behaviours that people find off-putting.
1. Sharing too many photos
You may want to think twice before posting a dozen photos of your baby niece taking her first steps.
In one study, researchers looked at the Facebook behaviour of about 500 people around age 24. They asked them to fill out questionnaires about the quality of their relationships with different people in their lives: friends, close friends, colleagues, relatives, partners, and general Facebook friends.
Then they asked participants to indicate how often those people posted everything from selfies, to family photos, to pictures of friends on Facebook.
Two interesting findings emerged. One, people tend to have less supportive, intimate relationships with family members when they post lots of photos of friends. And two, people tend to have less supportive, intimate relationships with friends when they post lots of photos of family.
In other words, instead of releasing that baby photo to the masses, consider texting it to your sister instead.
As study co-author Ben Marder, Ph.D., put it: “Be cautious when sharing and think how it will be perceived by all the others who may see it. Although sharing is a great way to better relationships, it can also damage them.”
2. Having too many or too few Facebook friends
Consider taking the time to prune your Facebook friend list — or to add some more connections if that list is looking sparse. Research suggests there are perils to having too many or too few friends.
In one study, researchers asked about 150 college students to look at fictional Facebook profiles and decide how much they liked the profiles’ owners. The study took place in 2008, and the students had an average of 395 friends each.
Results showed that the “sweet spot” for likability was about 300 friends. Likability ratings were lowest when a profile owner had only about 100 friends, and almost as low when they had more than 300 friends.
As for why 300-plus friends could be a turn-off, the study authors write, “Individuals with too many friends may appear to be focusing too much on Facebook, friending out of desperation rather than popularity.”
On the other hand, the researchers acknowledge that if you look at a population where the most common number of Facebook friends is 1,000, the sweet spot for likability could be 1,000.
Keep in mind, though, that one survey found that the average number of Facebook friends among adult users was 338 in 2014.
Interestingly, the study also found that participants weren’t consciously aware that they liked people less when they had too many or too few Facebook friends.
3. Posting a close-up profile photo
It doesn’t matter how gorgeous you are — it’s somewhat awkward to post a profile photo in which there’s barely any space between your face and the camera.
In one small study, 45 participants looked at grayscale photos of 18 unfamiliar white men, displayed on a computer. They were asked to rate each person on trustworthiness, competence, and attractiveness.
Results showed that faces photographed from within what the researchers call “personal space” (45 centimeters, or about 1.5 feet) were rated lower on all measures than faces photographed from at least 135 centimeters, or about 4.5 feet, away.
Bottom line: It’s easy to thoughtlessly post an entire photo album or send friend requests to your entire company — but doing so can have some negative consequences for your relationships. So be as cautious online as you are in crafting your persona IRL.
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