Do You Spy On Your Lover On Facebook?
August 27, 2013

Do You Spy On Your Lover On Facebook?

Are you the type person who spies on your romantic partner? What about your ex? Facebook and other social media sites make snooping on your partner easy, if you are inclined to do so. I mean, using Facebook to interact with people you care about is the norm these days, but what if you suspect that your significant other is involved in some hanky-panky? How far will you go using social media to find out what that SO(B) is really up to.

Wouldn’t you know it, researchers are trying to determine what kinds of people are most likely to resort to such spying. Jesse Fox, PhD, at Ohio State and Katie M. Warber, PhD, at Wittenberg University have published their findings in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Doctors Fox and Warber describe four characteristics of social networking sites (SNS) that make them quite useful if you want to delve into the deep dark secrets of your beloved, otherwise known as interpersonal electronic surveillance (IPS). First of all, information is readily accessible on these sites. You have probably already “friended” your romantic partner, after all. Secondly, people post a lot of different kinds of media in their posts. You may find text messages, photos, links and audio or video clips. Third, you can go back for all kinds of archived material to see what the person you are researching did in times long past. And last, you don’t have to be anywhere near the person to do your searching. They may never know that you have been snooping.

So, how likely is any individual person go do this kind of surveillance? The researchers predicted that “relational uncertainty” would be a factor. For example, if you aren’t sure that your relationship is solid, you might be more likely to do a little IPS. Is this person really as into you as they seem? Does this relationship have a future? Or if you remain Facebook friends after a breakup, does that mean that you could possibly get together again? But guess what, they found no correlation between relational uncertainty and the likelihood that a partner would snoop.

What they did find to be a factor is the kind of attachment a person has to their love interest. According to this study, there are two key dimensions of attachment. One is anxiety, meaning whether or not a person perceives there to be uncertainty in the relationship. The other is avoidance, meaning whether or not a person seeks to avoid personal interactions.

By combining these two dimensions in different ways, the researchers described four types of attachment styles: secure, preoccupied, dismissing, and fearful. Secure people are comfortable with themselves and their partners in relationships. They view themselves as worthy of close, intimate relationships and show little anxiety about their partners. They are the least likely to suffer from relationship problems.

Preoccupied people have high regard for their partners, but a low regard for their own place in the relationship. They may feel unworthy of their partner and fear being rejected. As they try to control the relationship, they may become clingy. Preoccupied people show a high degree of anxiety and a low degree of avoidance.

Dismissing people have a positive perception of themselves, but a negative perception of others. They tend to be more independent and exhibit a low level of anxiety. These people are likely to avoid close relationships.

Fearful individuals worry about being hurt and are uncomfortable in close relationships. They are not assertive in their dealings with others. They experience high anxiety and high avoidance.

The two styles with higher anxiety tend to experience a longer recovery time following a breakup and are more likely to continue to seek information about their former partners.

These differences in attachment have social media implications. For one thing, maintaining a Facebook friendship with your ex-partner may make the breakup seem less than permanent. It may not seem to the anxious person that the relationship is really over – maybe there is still hope for the relationship to resume.

On the other hand, an anxious person may interpret ambiguous remarks from their partner in a negative way. They may actually sabotage the relationship by creating a problem where no problem really exists.

Will knowing about these different attachment styles help you with your relationships? Possibly not, but if you recognized these characteristics either in yourself or your partner, you might want to rethink your Facebook status.

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