A Study of Self-Presentation on Facebook

I wrote my BA paper in social psychology during autumn 2007. It was about the image people create of themselves on Facebook. The paper was quite original within the field of psychology. There were no previously published psychology papers on Facebook at that time (PsychInfo), although a few could be found in computer science journals. Among the paper’s contributions to social psychology are the description of the relationship between social status and cyber-tactility, and suggested amendments to Goffman’s theory of self-presentation. The paper was the only one in social psychology graded with an A that semester.
Download the entire paper here BA paper: Social Psychology(opens in a new tab/window). Free to use if you remember to cite me. It would also make me very happy to know that you’ve used my paper, so please consider dropping me a note.

This paper examines self-presentational theories in the light self-presentation management on an increasingly popular social networking site called Facebook. This site allows users to build up a list of ‘friends’ and interact with them by sharing personal information, pictures and other self-presentational items. The theories considered belong mainly to Irving Goffman and Mark Leary, and the research problem is how these theories may be generalised to online social networks and how the case, Facebook, contributes to our understanding of self-presentation. The conclusion is that while the self-presentational theories explain much of the self-presentational behaviour on Facebook, these explanations become unparsimonious in some cases. The paper further proposes suggestions for amendments to existing theories. It does not seek to come with an alternative self-presentation theory for Facebook, but to reveal strengths and weaknesses that can be considered when such a step is to be taken. The most notable suggestions are the concepts of Computer-Mediated Tactility, which is a virtual form of nonverbal behaviour involving expressions of tactility, and the concept of Detached Self-Presentation, a cognitive division of self-concept caused by a difference between the current offline self and the presented online self.

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