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Putting Up Emotional (Facebook) Walls? Attachment Status and Emerging Adults’ Experiences of Social Networking Sites

Authors

  • George C. Nitzburg,

    Corresponding author
    1. Zucker-Hillside Hospital
    2. Teachers College, Columbia University
    • Please address correspondence to: George C. Nitzburg, North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System, Division of Psychiatry Research, The Zucker-Hillside Hospital, 79-59 263rd Street, Room 121, Glen Oaks, NY, 11004. Email: gnitzburg@nshs.edu

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  • Barry A. Farber

    1. Teachers College, Columbia University
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Abstract

Social networking sites (SNS) like Facebook can increase interpersonal connections but also intensify jealousy, envy, and surveillance behaviors. Attachment styles may help explain differences in experiencing SNS. This study investigated the role of attachment in influencing emerging adults’ perceptions and feelings about SNS and their disclosures on SNS. Disorganized and anxious attachment predicted subjects’ use of SNS to avoid more personal face-to-face communication, suggesting individuals with these tendencies use SNS to hold relationships at a psychological arm's distance. Anxious attachment also predicted feelings of intimacy when using SNS, perhaps reflecting online needs for comfort from others. A case narrative is presented to show how those with insecure attachment patterns may struggle to avoid interpersonal conflict when being continuously presented with ambiguous social information.

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