TUESDAY, Oct. 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Misery loves company, and apparently social media users are no exception.
When people are feeling low, they're likely to try to make themselves feel better by searching social networking sites for people who are doing even worse, Ohio State University researchers report.
Their study included 168 college students who used a social networking site when they were in a good mood and again when they were in a bad mood.
When in a good mood, participants tended to focus on people whose profiles suggested they were attractive and successful. When in a bad mood, participants showed more interest in people whose profiles indicated they were unattractive and unsuccessful.
The findings were published online recently in the journal Computers in Human Behavior.
"Generally, most of us look for the positive on social media sites. But if you're feeling vulnerable, you'll look for people on Facebook who are having a bad day or who aren't as good at presenting themselves positively, just to make yourself feel better," study co-author Benjamin Johnson, an assistant professor at VU University in Amsterdam, said in an Ohio State University news release.
Johnson was a doctoral student in communication at Ohio State when he took part in the study.
The findings suggest that people could use social media to manage their moods, according to the researchers.
"If you need a self-esteem boost, you're going to look at people worse off than you. You're probably not going to be looking at the people who just got a great new job or just got married," study co-author Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, professor of communication at Ohio State, said in the news release.
"One of the great appeals of social network sites is that they allow people to manage their moods by choosing who they want to compare themselves to," she added.
Mental Health America advises how to live your life well.