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UVU Study Finds Facebook Use May Be Connected To Job Satisfaction, Relationships With Coworkers

18 January 2013 No Comment

January 18, 2013

For Immediate Release

University Marketing & Communications: Mike Rigert (801) 863-6807

Written by: Layton Shumway, (801) 863-6863

A 2012 study conducted at Utah Valley University found a connection between Facebook users and their attitudes toward their coworkers and job experiences — the more people use Facebook, the less likely they are to have strong relationships with coworkers and feel satisfied with their work.

Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Ron Hammond, professors in the Department of Behavioral Science at UVU, surveyed 516 currently employed undergraduate students at UVU on their Facebook use and their attitudes toward their jobs. The study was born of the increasingly prevalent practice of companies that use Facebook profiles as a means of evaluating the social skills and personality of prospective employees.

“One of the major discoveries we have from an employer’s point of view,” Hammond said, “is that asking questions about Facebook use or using Facebook as an informal screening process is not nearly as important as asking potential employees about their time spent with friends in real life, away from the Internet.”

The 516 responses were drawn from a randomized pool of 8,000 students. Those surveyed were asked to rate their relationships with their coworkers, their attitudes toward their jobs and whether they were thinking about changing jobs. They were then asked how many years they had been using Facebook, how many hours they spent there per week, how often they updated their Facebook status, how many Facebook friends they had, and how many coworkers they had on Facebook.

Using multiple regression analyses, the study found that those who constantly updated Facebook, spent longer hours there or had more Facebook friends did not appear to have better relationships at work. Those with more Facebook friends were less likely to care about their work performance, and those who updated Facebook more frequently liked their jobs less and were more likely to think about changing jobs.

By contrast, those surveyed who spent more time with friends offline were more likely to enjoy their current jobs and less likely to think about changing.

“We were not able to discern from this study if people with poor workplace skills and attitudes are more drawn to Facebook, or if they are more likely to be pushed to Facebook because of their dissatisfaction with work,” Hammond said.

Hammond stressed that, while this study was as academically rigorous as possible, Facebook is a difficult field for social research.

“When we do scientific research about Facebook, it almost always proves to be counterintuitive,” Hammond said. “Most of the studies do not find what they’re looking for. The answers are a lot more complex than the original hypotheses.”

In the case of this study, Hammond said the findings showed that Facebook does not fill social gaps in the lives of its users. Rather, it serves to augment the skills and relationships users already possess.

“It’s really more like a mirror of their own lives — a reflection of their social experience,” Hammond said.

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About UVU

Utah Valley University is located in Orem, Utah, and is home to more than 30,000 students. UVU began as a vocational school during World War II, and in the seven decades since has evolved into a technical school, community school, state college and, finally, a comprehensive regional teaching university. UVU is one of Utah’s largest institutions of higher learning and offers programs ranging from career training to high-demand master degrees, with emphasis on undergraduate education.

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