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FACEBOOK, UNDERGRADUATES, AND RUINED
RELATIONSHIPS: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY

C heyenne Seymour
Bronx Community College

Many college students have used Facebook to connect with people
they know and expand their network with new acquaintances. How­
ever, this exploratory study aimed to examine the self-reported chal­
lenges that undergraduates (N=l 68) encountered in their personal lives
using Facebook. The experiences of college students of varying age,
gender, and race/ethnicity were analyzed using Spearman’s rank cor­
relation coefficient and Fisher’s exact test to determine if there was a
relationship between the experienced challenges and the demographics
that students belong to. This study found the likelihood of undergrad­
uates’ personal information being shared on Facebook by friends de­
creases with age. An analysis of gender and personal problems related
to use of the social site uncovered that female college students reported
a higher loss of platonic and romantic relationships involving Face-
book than males. An examination of race/ethnicity and experiences
found undergraduates who identified as “other” reported an interest in
making their lives appear better on Facebook than it is in reality.

Keywords: Facebook, social media, undergraduates, challenges, rela­
tionships

Introduction
Social interaction has changed rapidly due

to social networks, like Facebook. Although
the platform has helped people to connect,
there has been a disconnect for some when
it comes developing and maintaining rela­
tionships with others. The personal lives of
college students have been vulnerable to
detrimental repercussions, as a result of social
networking activity (Kittinger, Correia, &
Irons, 2012; Sherrell & Lambie, 2016).

An exploration of experiences associated
with social media and the demographics of
its users has provided more information on
how undergraduates use Facebook and the
implications of it. Evidence has suggested

that demographics impact the way under­
graduates use Facebook (Junco, Merson,
& Salter, 2010; Farinosi & Taipale, 2018).
Gender has also impacted the experience of
college students on Facebook (Thompson
& Lougheed, 2012).This study examined
the self-reported experiences of college stu­
dents, by demographic, to understand how
Facebook impacted their personal lives.
Specifically, undergraduates’ posting of
personal information and the social site’s
impact on relationships with family, friends,
and romantic partners were analyzed to iden­
tify connections between the experiences as
well as the age, gender, and race/ethnicity of
college students.

405

406 / College Student Journal

Literature Review
Many problematic behaviors on Facebook

have stemmed from romantic relationships.
Research revealed that more than half of the
college students polled in one study used the
social networking site to contact an ex-part-
ner after a relationship had ended (Lyndon,
Bonds-Raacke, & Cratty, 2011). As a result,
those who connected with ex-partners were
likely to engage in cyber obsessional pursuit
(COP) and obsessional relational intrusion
(ORI). The researchers found that cyber-
stalking has become more prevalent with
the widespread use of social networks. Fur­
thermore, just over 40% of undergraduates
polled indicated they were a victim of cyber-
stalking (Reyns, Henson, & Fisher, 2012).
These behaviors have limited the privacy of
those pursued and may lead to legal trouble
for those found harassing others online.

There is evidence to support that some col­
lege students have used Facebook to “monitor
or harass,” people they were in previous ro­
mantic relationships with (Lyndon et. ah, 2011,
p.712). The researchers collected and analyzed
data to examine the likelihood that Facebook
activities involving ex-partners could lead to
COP, which involves pursuing an individual
through electronic channels or ORI, which is
pursuing an individual at a physical locale.
Involvement in one behavior was an indication
of the potential for other types of behavior.
According to Lyndon et al. (2011), the students
who engaged in COP via Facebook were more
likely to engage in ORI. Furthermore, the re­
searchers revealed that students were nearly
seven times more likely to obsessively pursue
an individual online if they had engaged in any
traditional pursuit compared to those who were
never engaged in traditional pursuit (Lyndon
et al., 2011, p. 714). The data collected by the
researchers implied that the information some
post on Facebook has been used by ex-partners
for the purpose of monitoring, harassing, pur­
suit, and intrusion.

The use of Facebook has contributed to
some users experiencing negative feelings.
Some undergraduates have experienced feel­
ings associated with inadequacy as a result of
their Facebook use (Chou & Edge, 2012). The
researchers found, when controlling for gen­
der, relationship status, and religiosity, stu­
dents with a high number of Facebook friends
they did not personally know were more like­
ly to agree that, “others had better lives than
themselves.” In addition, the study uncovered
that the more time one had been a Facebook
user, the more they agreed that, “others were
happier than themselves.” However, Chou and
Edge (2012) found the respondents who spent
more time with their friends in person agreed
less that “others had better lives than them­
selves.” The study supported the notion that
connecting virtually, instead of in person, can
have damaging implications on how students
perceived their lives and the lives of others.
Moreover, Chen and Lee (2013) analyzed the
self-reported experiences of undergraduates
and found that Facebook usage and self-es­
teem are indirectly connected. Specifically,
the researchers reported that the relationship
between Facebook and self-esteem is likely
to be negative due to the mediation effect of
communication overload.

Examining college students by gender
provided insight on their Facebook usage and
experiences due to the social site. Kittinger,
Correia, and Irons (2012) found females ac­
cessed Facebook slightly more times each day
than their male counterparts. On average, the
females checked their accounts 3.67 times per
day compared to the males who checked on
average 3.01 with a standard deviation of 2.27
(Kittinger et. al., 2012). In addition, women
reported spending more minutes daily on the
site than men. The women spent an average
of 63.39 minutes on the site and men spent an
average of 35.11 minutes on Facebook daily
(Kittinger et. al., 2012). Furthermore, an ex­
amination of gender, in relation to Facebook

Facebook, Undergraduates, and Ruined Relationships /407

use, uncovered differences between the im­
plications of use for male and female college
students (Thompson & Lougheed, 2012). An
examination of means between the male and
female undergraduates revealed that female
college students are more likely to spend
more time on Facebook, lose sleep due to the
site, feel closer to their virtual friends than
those they see on a regular basis, believe the
photos of others caused negative self-body
image, feel stress due to Facebook, and feel
addicted to the social site (Thompson &
Lougheed, 2012). Thusly, clear distinctions
involving the effects of Facebook across
gender have existed.

Methods
Overview

This quantitative study gathered and ana­
lyzed data on students’ self-reported experi­
ences on Facebook. Furthermore, it explored
the correlation between experiences and the
students’ demographics. College students
were asked to complete an electronic survey
in which they responded to statements regard­
ing their involvement with Facebook using
a Likert scale. The survey produced quanti­
tative data that was examined to identify the
experiences on Facebook that led to negative
outcomes while enrolled in an institution of
higher education.

Research Questions
The research question for this study is the

following:

RQI. Is there an association between
self-reported experiences and the de­
mographics of college students?

Participants
This quantitative study involved gathering

information from a diverse college student
population. The students’ ages ranged from

18 to 35. Participants included full-time and
part-time undergraduate students enrolled in
one public four-year university, one private
college, and two community colleges.

Sample
The total number of participants was 186,

which was collected from convenience sam­
pling. The researcher invited 677 students to
participate voluntarily. To encourage partici­
pation and honest self-reporting, the invitation
to participate indicated that personal informa­
tion would not be requested and IP addressed
would not be tracked. The response rate for
this study has been estimated at 24.8%.

The three colleges and one university
followed U.S. federal regulations covering re­
search on human subjects. After Institutional
Review Board (IRB) approval from the four
institutions and receipt of consent, the volun­
tary participants all received the same survey.

Data Collection Instrument

The electronic survey used in this study
featured 10 statements about Facebook in
relation to participants’ personal lives. All
statements were developed by the researcher.
The statements were based upon potential
problem areas identified by existing research.
Participants responded to the statements using
a Likert scale with five options ranging from
strongly disagree to strongly agree. In addi­
tion, there was an option to indicate when the
participant did not have a formed opinion. An
additional component of the survey asked the
participants to volunteer the demographics
they identified with.

The rationale for using an electronic survey
to collect quantitative data was based upon
the knowledge that all Facebook users have
experience accessing the Internel to send and
share information. In addition, students were
able to use their mobile devices to participate
in this study, as an added convenience.

408 / College Student Journal

Analyses
The data was analyzed using SPSS. Anal­

ysis involved the utilization of descriptive sta­
tistics. Frequencies and cross-tabs were used
for analysis of frequencies by demographic
variables, which included gender, race/
ethnicity, and age. The use of a Likert Scale
with an option to respond neutrally, centered
between strongly disagree and strongly agree
produced non-continuous data because the
distance between disagree and no opinion
as well as no opinion and agree could not be
accurately measured. Therefore, to test the
independence of variables using nominal data
with low frequencies, Fisher’s exact test was
used. This test was used to examine how the
students’ Facebook experiences led to chal­
lenges. In addition, it was used to analyze the
relationship between participant responses
and demographic variables, which included
age, gender, and race/ethnicity.

A correlation analysis, using Spearman’s
correlation coefficient, was conducted to see
if Facebook experiences involving personal
lives were associated with age and if so, in
which direction. Students were asked to re­
port their exact age on the survey.

Results
Descriptive Statistics

All participants were between the ages of
18 and 35, as shown in Table 1. The students’
median age was 22.0 and their mean age was
23.7, with a standard deviation of 5.1.

Table I. Frequency of Age and Gender

Age Male Female Total

18 14 12 26

19 9 12 21

20 4 8 12

21 4 9 13

22 3 4 7

23 2 1 3

24 4 4 8

25 3 10 13

26 1 3 4

27 4 6 10

28 0 7 7

29 2 4 6

30 0 3 3

31 1 6 7

32 0 5 5

33 I 2 3

34 2 3 5

35 0 2 2

Note, n = 155.

As represented in Table 2, 65.2% of the
participants were female and 34.8% were
male. Freshmen represented 45.8% of the
respondents, 35.5% were sophomores, 16.1 %
were juniors, and 2.6% were seniors. The
largest racial group of students identified as
white. They accounted for 60.0% of the par­
ticipants. Of the remaining students, 16.8%
identified as black, 12.3% as Hispanic, 7.7%
as “other,” and 3.2% as Asian/Pacific Is­
lander. None of the participants identified as
American lndian/Alaskan Native.

Facebook, Undergraduates, and Ruined Relationships / 409

Table 2. Respondent Gender and Race/
Ethnicity Demographics

n %

G e n d e r

F em a le 101 6 5 .2

M ale 54 3 4 .9

R ac e /E th n ic ity

W h ite 93 6 0 .0

B lack 26 16.8

H isp an ic 19 12.3

O th e r 12 7 .7

A sian /P ac if ic Is la n d e r 5 3.2

A m e ric a n In d ia n /A la sk an N a tiv e 0 0 .0

Age and Facebook Experiences
An analysis of college students’ age and

responses related to personal challenges
suggested two areas with a statistical signifi­
cance. To analyze these variables, Spearman’s
rank correlation coefficient was used to ex­
amine the dependence of variables represent­
ed by non-continuous data, as shown in Table
3. The analysis highlighted a relationship
between college students’ age and their in­
volvement with posting personal information

on Facebook (rho = 0.23; p = 0.00). There was
a small correlation to suggest older college
students were more likely to avoid sharing
their personal information on Facebook. In
addition, the data reflected a significance
involving the participants’ personal informa­
tion being added to Facebook by their friends
(rho = -0.25, p = 0.00). There was a small
correlation that implies that the likelihood of
having friends post personal information on
Facebook decreased with age.

Gender and Facebook Experiences
The participants’ collective responses, by

gender, has been reflected in Table 4. The
survey provided students with five response
options, which included strongly disagree,
disagree, no opinion, agree, and strongly
agree. To represent the data, the five options
were collapsed into three categories. Strong­
ly disagree and disagree were combined. The
neutral category represented the students
who reported having no opinion on a re­
spective statement. Strongly agree and agree
were also combined.

The self-reported experiences of male and
female college students on Facebook were

Table 3. Age and Self-Reported Challenges

N rho p-value

Q u e s tio n s o n F a c eb o o k a n d P e rso n a l C h a lle n g e s

I d o n o t p o s t m y p e rso n a l in fo rm a tio n o f FB 157 0 .23 0 .00**

M y fr ien d s p o s t m y p e rso n a l in fo rm a tio n on FB 157 -0 .25 0 .00**

1 d o n o t w a n t to m a k e m y life a p p e a r b e tte r on FB th an it is in re a lity 157 0 .05 0 .5 2

I h a v e n o t p o s te d lie s a b o u t m y s e l f on F B 157 0 .15 0 .06

1 h a v e h a d p ro b le m s w ith a fa m ily m e m b e r d u e to c o n te n t p o s te d on FB 156 0 .40 0 .62

I h a v e s to p p ed c o m m u n ic a t in g w ith a fam ily m e m b e r d u e to FB 157 0 .12 0 .15

1 h a v e had p ro b le m s w ith a fr ie n d s h ip d u e to c o n te n t p o s te d on FB 151 -0.01 0 .93

I h a v e s to p p ed c o m m u n ic a t in g w ith a fr ien d d u e to FB 156 0 .00 0 .98

I h a v e h a d p ro b le m s w ith a ro m a n tic re la tio n sh ip d u e to c o n te n t p o s te d on FB 156 0.01 0 .9 2

I h a v e e n d e d a ro m a n tic re la tio n s h ip d u e to c o n te n t p o s ted o n FB 157 -0 .0 6 0 .4 6

Note. FB = Facebook.

*p <0.05, **p<0.01, ***p<0.001.

410 / College Student Journal

analyzed using Fisher’s exact test to examine
the independence of variables. As shown in
Table 5, four statements pertaining to per­
sonal challenges were found to have statisti­
cally significant differences among genders.
Fisher’s exact test suggested there is a statis­
tically significant difference between gender
and having problems with friendship due to
Facebook (p = 0.00). Almost three-quarters of
the male participants reported they disagree
(20.8%) or strongly disagree (52.8%) that the
site led to an issue with a friend. Flowever,
more than two-fifths of the females indicated
they agree (29.2%) or strongly agree (12.5%)
with the statement. Furthermore, there was a
statistically significant difference involving
gender and ending a friendship due to the
social network (p = 0.00). Zero male par­
ticipants indicated that they strongly agree
with dissolving a platonic relationship due
to Facebook and 11.1% reported they agree

compared with 5.8% of females who re­
sponded they strongly agree and 20.1 % who
said they agree. In addition, Fisher’s exact
suggests there was a statistically significant
difference between this demographic and ex­
periencing problems with a romantic relation­
ship (p = 0.01). Of the female students, 25.7%
reported they agree and 17.8% revealed they
strongly agree compared to 11.3% of males
who said they agree and 5.7% who indicated
they strongly agree. Fisher’s exact also sug­
gested there is a statistically significant differ­
ence between gender and ending a romantic
relationship due to Facebook (p = 0.03). Zero
males revealed they strongly agree with this
statement and 11.1% of them indicated they
agree. However, 11.9% of female respondents
revealed they strongly agree that the social
platform played a role in the end of a roman­
tic partnership along with an additional 5.9%
who reported they agree.

Facebook, Undergraduates, and Ruined Relationships / 411

Table 4. Survey Results for FB and Personal Challenges by Gender

Survey Item
Strongly
Disagree

Disagree N eutral Agree
Strongly

Agree

% % % % %
I do not post my personal information of
FB
Male 7.4 27.8 9.3 31.5 24.1
Female 33.3 32.7 5.9 30.7 28.7
My friends post my personal information
on FB
Male 35.2 35.2 9.3 18.5 1.9
Female 37.6 36.6 2.0 18.8 5.0
I do not want to make my life appear better
on FB than it is in reality
Male 7.4 9.3 13.0 37.0 33.3
Female 2.0 12.9 13.9 35.6 35.6
1 have not posted lies about myself on FB
Male 7.4 9.3 5.6 25.9 51.9
Female 1.0 5.0 4.0 30.70 59.4
I have had problems with a family member
due to content posted on FB
Male 46.3 25.9 5.6 18.5 3.7
Female 31.0 22.0 6.0 29.0 12.0

1 have stopped communicating with a
family member due to FB
Male 59.3 26.6 3.7 3.7 3.7
Female 49.5 26.7 3.0 13.9 6.9

1 have had problems with a friendship due
to content posted on FB
Male 52.8 20.8 7.5 18.9 0.0
Female 24.0 28.1 6.3 29.8 12.5
I have stopped communicating with a
friend due to FB
Male 53.7 29.6 5.6 11.1 0.0
Female 32.0 33.0 1.0 25.0 9.0

I have had problems with a romantic rela­
tionship due to content posted on FB
Male 43.4 26.4 13.2 11.3 5.7
Female 31.7 20.8 4.0 25.7 17.8
I have ended a romantic relationship due to
content posted on FB
Male 51.9 31.5 5.6 11.1 0.0
Female 41.6 36.6 4.0 5.9 11.9

Note. FB = Facebook.

412 / College Student Journal

Table 5. Gender and Self-Reported Challenges

n
F isher’s

exact test
p- value

Q u e s tio n s on F a c e b o o k a n d P e rso n a l C h a lle n g e s

I d o n o t p o s t m y p e rso n a l in fo rm a tio n o f FB 155 3 .74 0 .4 6

M y fr ien d s p o s t m y p e rso n a l in fo rm a tio n on FB 155 4.61 0 .3 4

1 d o n o t w a n t to m a k e m y life a p p e a r b e tte r on FB th an it is in re a lity 155 3 .02 0 .57

I h a v e n o t p o s te d lie s a b o u t m y s e l f o n FB 155 6.11 0 .1 7

1 h a v e h ad p ro b le m s w ith a fam ily m e m b e r d u e to c o n te n t p o s ted on FB 154 6 .58 0 .1 6

I h a v e s to p p ed c o m m u n ic a t in g w ith a fam ily m e m b e r d u e to FB 155 5 .04 0 .28

I h a v e h ad p ro b le m s w ith a f r ien d sh ip d u e to c o n te n t p o s ted on FB 149 17.86 0 .0 0 * *

I h a v e s to p p ed c o m m u n ic a t in g w ith a fr ien d d u e to FB 154 15.40 0 .0 0 * *

I h a v e h ad p ro b le m s w ith a ro m a n tic re la tio n sh ip d u e to c o n te n t p o s te d on FB 154 13.18 0 .0 1 *

I h a v e e n d e d a ro m a n tic re la tio n s h ip d u e to c o n te n t p o s te d o n FB 154 10.17 0 .03*

Note. FB = Facebook.

*p <0.05, **p<0.01, ***p<0.001.

Race/Ethnicity and Facebook Experiences
Table 6 revealed the undergraduates’ re­

sponses by race/ethnicity. An examination of
students’ race/ethnicity and their Facebook
experiences, using Fisher’s exact test, un­
covered one area of a statistically significant
difference, as displayed in Table 7. To analyze
the data, the five response categories were
collapsed into three. Both strongly disagree
and disagree were grouped to create one cate­
gory and strongly agree and agree created an
additional grouping. No opinion remained its

own category. Fisher’s exact test suggested
there is a statistically significant difference
involving participants’ race/ethnicity and re­
sponses to the statement about not aiming to
make life appear better on Facebook than it is
in reality (p = 0.01). Students who identified
as “other” have the smallest percentage who
accepted this statement; Twenty-five percent
indicted they agree or strongly agree com­
pared to 89.5% of Hispanics, 80.0% of Asian/
Pacific Islanders, 73.1% of blacks, and 72.0%
of whites.

Facebook, Undergraduates, and Ruined Relationships / 413

Table 6. Survey Results for FB and Personal Challenges by Race/Ethnicity

S u r v e y I te m D is a g re e N e u tra l A g re e

% % %

I d o n o t p o s t m y p e rso n a l in fo rm a tio n o f FB

W h ite 4 0 .0 7 .5 5 1 .6

B lack 3 4 .0 7 .7 5 7 .7

H isp an ic 2 4 .0 10.5 6 8 .4

A sian / P ac ific Is la n d e r 2 0 .0 0 .0 8 0 .0

A m e ric a n In d ia n / N a tiv e A la sk a n 0 .0 0 .0 0 .0

O th e r 2 5 .0 0 .0 7 5 .0

M y fr ien d s p o s t m y p e rso n a l in fo rm a tio n on FB

W h ite 7 7 .4 5 .4 17.2

B lack 5 3 .8 3 .8 4 2 .3

H isp an ic 7 3 .7 0 .0 2 6 .3

A sian / P ac ific Is la n d e r 100.0 0 .0 0 .0

A m e ric a n In d ian / N a tiv e A la sk an 0 .0 0 .0 0 .0

O th e r 6 6 .7 8.3 2 5 .0

I d o n o t w a n t to m a k e m y life a p p e a r b e tte r on FB th a n it is in re a lity

W h ite 12.9 15.1 7 2 .0

B lack 11.5 15.4 73.1

H isp an ic 5.3 5.3 89 .5

A sian / P ac ific Is la n d e r 2 0 .0 0 .0 8 0 .0

A m e ric a n In d ia n / N a tiv e A la sk a n 0 .0 0 .0 0 .0

O th e r 58 .3 16.7 2 5 .0

I h a v e n o t p o s te d lie s ab o u t m y s e l f on FB

W h ite 9 .7 1.1 89 .2

B lack 11.5 11.5 7 6 .9

H isp an ic 5.3 10.5 8 4 .0

A sian / P ac ific Is la n d e r 0 .0 0 .0 100.0

A m e ric a n In d ia n / N a tiv e A la sk a n 0 .0 0 .0 0 .0

O th e r 16.7 8.3 7 5 .0

1 h a v e h ad p ro b le m s w ith a fam ily m e m b e r d u e to c o n te n t p o s te d on FB

W h ite 6 3 .0 4 .3 3 2 .6

B lack 53 .8 11.5 3 4 .6

H isp an ic 5 7 .9 5.3 3 6 .8

A sian / P ac ific Is la n d e r 8 0 .0 0 .0 2 0 .0

A m e ric a n In d ian / N a tiv e A la sk a n 0 .0 0 .0 0 .0

O th e r 4 1 .7 8.3 5 0 .0

I h a v e s to p p ed c o m m u n ic a t in g w ith a fam ily m e m b e r d u e to FB

414 / College Student Journal

Table 6. Survey Results for FB and Personal Challenges by Race/Ethnicity (continued)

Survey Item Disagree Neutral Agree

% % %

W h ite 8 1 .7 1.1 17.2

B lack 8 0 .8 15.4 3 .8

H isp an ic 7 3 .7 0 .0 26 .3

A sian / P ac ific Is la n d e r 8 0 .0 0 .0 2 0 .0

A m e ric a n In d ian / N a tiv e A la sk a n 0 .0 0 .0 0 .0

O th e r 83 .3 0 .0 16.7

I h a v e h a d p ro b le m s w ith a fr ien d sh ip d u e to c o n te n t p o s te d o n I-‘B

W h ile 59 .3 6 .6 34.1

B lack 5 0 .0 8 .3 4 1 .7

H isp an ic 5 5 .6 5.6 3 8 .9

A sian / P ac ific Is la n d e r 100.0 0 .0 0 .0

A m e ric a n In d ian / N a tiv e A la sk a n 0 .0 0.0 0 .0

O th e r 54 .5 9.1 3 6 .4

I h a v e h a d p ro b le m s w ith a fr ien d sh ip d u e to c o n te n t p o s te d on FB

W h ite 59.3 6 .6 34.1

B lack 5 0 .0 8.3 4 1 .7

H isp an ic 5 5 .6 5 .6 3 8 .9

A sian / P ac ific Is la n d e r 100.0 0 .0 0 .0

A m e ric a n In d ian / N a tiv e A la sk a n 0 .0 0 .0 0 .0

O th e r 54 .5 9.1 3 6 .4

1 h a v e s to p p ed c o m m u n ic a t in g w ith a fr ien d d u e to F B

W h ite 73.1 2 .2 0 2 4 .7 0

B lack 6 4 .0 8 .00 2 8 .0 0

H isp an ic 6 8 .4 0 .0 0 3 1 .6 0

A sia n / P a c ific Is la n d e r 0 .0 0 .00 0 .0 0

A m e ric a n In d ian / N a tiv e A la sk a n 100.0 0 .0 0 0 .00

O th e r 6 6 .7 0 .0 0 3 3 .30

I h a v e h a d p ro b le m s w ith a ro m a n tic re la tio n s h ip d u e to c o n te n t p o s ted
on FB

W h ite 6 0 .2 6 .5 3 3 .3

B lack 6 9 .2 7 .7 23.1

H isp an ic 3 1 .6 10.5 5 7 .9

A sian / P a c ific Is la n d e r 8 0 .0 0 .0 2 0 .0

A m e ric a n In d ian / N a tiv e A la sk a n 0 .0 0 .0 0 .0

O th e r 54.5 9.1 3 6 .4

Facebook, Undergraduates, and Ruined Relationships / 415

Table 6. Survey Results for FB and Personal Challenges by Race/Ethnicity (continued)

Survey Item Disagree Neutral Agree

% % %

I have ended a romantic relationship due to content posted on FB

White 82.8 4.3 12.9

Black 76.9 7.7 15.4

Hispanic 68.4 0.0 31.6

Asian / Pacific Islander 0.0 0.0 0.0

American Indian / Native Alaskan 91.7 8.3 0.0

Other

Note. Disagree = Strongly Disagree and Disagree; Neutral = No Opinion; Agree = Strongly Agree and
Agree; FB = Facebook.

Table 7. Race/Ethnicity and Self-Reported Challenges

n Fisher’s
exact test

p- value

Questions on Facebook and Personal Challenges

I do not post my personal information of FB 155 5.37 0.69

My friends post my personal information on FB 155 9.80 0.20

1 do not want to make my life appear better on FB than it is in reality 155 17.57 0.01*

I have not posted lies about myself on FB 155 10.34 0.14

I have had problems with a family member due to content posted on FB 154 5.22 0.71

1 have stopped communicating with a family member due to FB 155 13.26 0.55

I have had problems with a friendship due to content posted on FB 149 4.65 0.78

I have stopped communicating with a friend due to FB 154 5.77 0.64

1 have had problems with a romantic relationship due to content posted on FB 154 8.73 0.30

1 have ended a romantic relationship due to content posted on FB 155 8.25 0.31

Note. FB = Facebook.

*p <0.05, **p<0.01, ***p<0.001.

Conclusion

An examination of experiences and demo­
graphics found there were some trends among
college students and their use of Facebook.
Age had an impact on the sharing of personal
information. The data uncovered the likeli­
hood o f personal information being posted to
Facebook by one’s self or their friends was

influenced by age. Although there was a weak
correlation between age and these two areas
o f personal life, the older a student was — the
more likely they were to avoid posting their
personal information on Facebook and less
likely they were to have friends that shared
their personal details on the social site.

416 / College Student Journal

When it came to gender and Facebook ex­
periences, an examination of the data showed
that gender influenced some of the challenges
users faced, similar to other research findings.
Male students reported low percentages of
both experiencing problems and ending rela­
tionships with friends and romantic partners
in comparison to their female counterparts.
Furthermore, none of the males reported that
they strongly agree with experiencing prob­
lems with friends and significant others or stop­
ping communication with a romantic partner.
However, female students reported they agree
and strongly agree with percentages ranging
from 5.9% to 29.8% for all four statements,
including ending communication with a friend.
The data supported Thompson and Lougheed’s
(2012) findings that females experienced more
problems related to their Facebook usage at
higher frequencies than males.

The analyzed responses, by the race/
ethnicity of participants, uncovered personal
challenges as well. Students who identi­
fied as “other” had the smallest percentage
(25.0%) of students who agree that they do
not want to make their lives appear better on
Facebook than it is in reality; all other race/
ethnicity groups reported they agree with
this statement in percentages that more than
doubled (white and black participants) or
tripled (Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander)
the rate of this group.

Additional research is required to deter­
mine the underlying cause for many of the
self-reported problems experienced by un­
dergraduates on Facebook. By gaining more
insight, undergraduates, faculty, and staff
can work on both prevention and support for
these personal challenges encountered by
some on the social site. For college students,
it is important to consider the implications
of their involvement with Facebook and the
potential influence that it can have on their
personal lives.

References
Chen, W., & Lee, K. (2013). Sharing, liking, comment­

ing, and distressed? The pathway between Facebook
interaction and psychological distress. Cyberpsy­
chology, Behavior & Social Networking, 16(10),
728-734. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2012.0272

Chou, H. G., & Edge, N. (2012). “They are happier and
having better lives than 1 am”: The impact of using
Facebook on perceptions of others’ lives. Cyberpsy­
chology, Behavior & Social Networking, 15(2), 117-
121. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2011.0324

Farinosi, M„ & Taipale, S. (2018). Who can see my stuff?
Online self-disclosure and gender differences on
Facebook. Observatorio (OBS*), 12(1), 53-71.

Junco, R., Merson, I)., & Salter, D. W. (2010). The effect
of gender, ethnicity, and income on college students’
use of communication technologies. Cyberpsycholo­
gy, Behavior & Social Networking, 13(6), 619-627.
doi: 10.1089/cyber.2009.0357

Kittinger, R„ Correia, C. J., & Irons, J. G. (2012). Re­
lationship between Facebook use and problematic
Internet use among college students. Cyberpsychol­
ogy, Behavior & Social Networking, 15(6), 324-327.
doi: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0410

Lyndon, A., Bonds-Raacke, J., & Cratty, A. D. (2011).
College students’ Facebook stalking of ex-partners.
Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking,
14(12), 711-716. doi:10.1089/cyber.2010.0588

Reyns, B. W., Henson, B., & Fisher, B. S. (2012). Stalking
in the Twilight Zone: Extent of cyberslalking vic­
timization and offending among college students.
Deviant Behavior, 33(1), 1-25. doi: 10.1080/016396
25.2010.538364

Sherrell, R. S., & l.ambie, G. W. (2016). A qualitative
investigation of college students’ Facebook usage
and romantic relationships: Implications for college
counselors. Journal o f College Counseling, 19(2),
138-153.

Thompson, S. H., & Lougheed, E. (2012). Frazzled by
Facebook? An exploratory study of gender differenc­
es in social network communication among under­
graduate men and women. College Student Journal,
46(1), 88. Retrieved from http://www.projectinnova-
tio n.biz/csj.hlml.

Copyright of College Student Journal is the property of Project Innovation, Inc. and its
content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the
copyright holder’s express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email
articles for individual use.

JOURNAL OF VERBAL LEARNING AND VERBAL BEHAVIOR 13, 585-589 (1974)

Reconstruction of Automobile Destruction :
An Example of the Interaction Between Language and Memory’

ELIZABETH F. LOFTUS AND JOHN C. PALMER

University of Washington

Two experiments are reported in which subjects viewed films of automobile accidents
and then answered questions about events occurring in the films. The question, “About
how fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” elicited higher estimates
of speed than questions which used the verbs collided, bumped, contucted, or hit in place of
smashed. On a retest one week later, those subjects who received the verb smashed were
more likely to say “yes” to the question, “Did you see any broken glass?”, even though
broken glass was not present in the film. These results are consistent with the view that the
questions asked subsequent to an event can cause a reconstruction in one’s memory of that
event.

How accurately do we remember the
details of a complex event, like a traffic
accident, that has happened in our presence?
More specifically, how well do we do when
asked to estimate some numerical quantity
such as how long the accident took, how fast
the cars were traveling, or how much time
elapsed between the sounding of a horn and
the moment of collision?

It is well documented that most people are
markedly inaccurate in reporting such numeri-
cal details as time, speed, and distance (Bird,
1927; Whipple, 1909). For example, most
people have difficulty estimating the duration
of an event, with some research indicating that
the tendency is to overestimate the duration of
events which are complex (Block, 1974;
Marshall, 1969; Ornstein, 1969). The judg-
ment of speed is especially difficult, and
practically every automobile accident results
in huge variations from one witness to another

This research was supported by the Urban Mass
Transportation Administration, Department of Trans-

1 portation, Grant No. WA-11-0004. Thanks go to

as to how fast a vehicle was actually traveling
(Gardner, 1933). In one test administered to
Air Force personnel who knew in advance
that they would be questioned about the speed
of a moving automobile, estimates ranged
from 10 to 50 mph. The car they watched was
actually going only 12 mph (Marshall, 1969,
p. 23).

Given the inaccuracies in estimates of
speed, it seems likely that there are variables
which are potentially powerful in terms of
influencing these estimates. The present
research was conducted to investigate one
such variable, namely, the phrasing of the
question used to elicit the speed judgment.
Some questions are clearly more suggestive
than others. This fact of life has resulted in
the legal concept of a leading question and in
legal rules indicating when leading questions
are allowed (Supreme Court Reporter, 1973).
A leading question is simply one that, either
by its form or content, suggests to the witness
what answer is desired or leads him to the
desired answer.

Geoffrey Loftus, Edward E. Smith, and Stephen
Woods for many important and helpful comments,
Reprint requests should be sent to Elizabeth F. Loftus.
Department of Psychology, University of Washington,
Seattle, Washington 981 95.
Copyright 0 1974 by Academic Press, Inc.

In the present study, subjects were shown

answered questions about the accident. The
films of traffic accidents and then they

subjects were interrogated about the speed of
585

All rights of reproduction in any form reserved.
Printed in Great Britain

586 LOFTUS AND PALMER

the vehicles in one of several ways. For
example, some subjects were asked, “About
how fast were the cars going when they hit
each other?” while others were asked, “About
how fast were the cars going when they
smashed into each other?” As Fillmore (1971)
and Bransford and McCarrell (in press) have
noted, hit and si.r.lasl?ed may involve speci-
fication of differential rates of movement.
Furthermore, the two verbs may also involve
differential specification of the likely con-
sequences of the events to which they are
referring. The impact of the accident is
apparently gentler for hit than for .n~ia.dtctI.

EXPERIMENT 1
Metliod

Forty-five students participated in groups of
various sizes. Seven films were shown, each
depicting a traffic accident. These films were
segments from longer driver’s education
f i l m borrowed from the Evergreen Safety
Council and the Seattle Police Department.
The length of the film segments ranged from
5 to 30 sec. Following each film, the subjects
received a questionnaire asking then1 first to,
“give an account of the accident you have just
seen,“ and then to answer a series of specific
questions about the accident. The critical
question was the one that interrogated the
subject about the speed of the vehicles involved
in the collision. Nine subjects were asked,
“About how fast were the cars going when they
hit each other?” Equal numbers of the
remaining subjects were interrogated with
the verbs smashed, collided, buiiiped, and
contacted in place of hit. The entire experiment
lasted about an hour and a half. A different
ordering of the films was presented to each
group of subjects.

R esiilt s

Table 1 presents the mean speed estimates
for the various verbs. Following the pro-
cedures outlined by Clark (1973), an analysis
of variance was performed with verbs as a
fixed effect, and subjects and films as random

TABLE 1 I
I

1
SPEED ESTIMATES FOR THE VERBS

USED IN EXPERIMENT 1
1

Verb Mean speed estimate

Sin as hed 40.5
Collided 39.3
Bumpcd 38.1
Hit 34.0
Contacted 31.8

efTects, yielding a significant quasi F ratio,

Some information about the accuracy of
subjects’ estimates can be obtained from our
data. Four of the seven films were staged
crashes; the original purpose of these films
was to illustrate what can happen to human
beings when cars collide at various speeds.
One collision took place at 20 mph, one at 30,
and two at 40. The mean estimates of speed
for these four films were: 37.7, 36.2, 39.7, and
36.1 mph, respectively. In agreement with
previous work, people are not very good at
judging how fast a vehicle was actually
traveling.

!“ (5 ,55) = 4.65, p < .005.

Discussioii
The results of this experiment indicate that

the form of a question (in this case, changes in
a single word) can markedly and systematically
affect a witness’s answer to that question.
The actual speed of the vehicles controlled
little variance in subject reporting, while the
phrasing of the question controlled con-
siderable variance.

Two interpretations of this finding are
possible. First, it is possible that the differen-
tial speed estimates result merely from
response-bias factors. A subject is uncertain
whether to say 30 mph or 40 mph, for example,
and the verb siiiaslied biases his response
towards the higher estimate. A second inter- Ps
pretation is that the question form causes a
change in the subject’s memory representa-
tion of the accident. The verb siiiashed may
change a subject’s memory such that he

LANGUAGE A N D MEMORY CHANGES 587

“sees” the accident as being more severe than
it actually was. If this is the case, we might
expect subjects to “remember” other details
that did not actually occur, but are com-
mensurate with an accident occurring at
higher speeds. The second experiment was
designed to provide additional insights into
the origin of the differential speed estimates.

with hit the estimate was 8.00 mph. These
means are significantly different, t (98) = 2.00,
p < -05.

TABLE 2

DISTRIBUTION OF “YES” AND “NO” RES-
PONSES TO THE QUESTION, “DID YOU S E E

ANY BROKEN GLASS?’

EXPERIMENT I1
Method

One hundred and fifty students participated
in this experiment, in groups of various sizes.
A film depicting a multiple car accident was
shown, followed by a questionnaire. The film
lasted less than 1 min; the accident in the film
lasted 4 sec. At the end of the film, the subjects
received a questionnaire asking them first to
describe the accident in their own words, and
then to answer a series of questions about the
accident. The critical question was the one
that interrogated the subject about the speed
of the vehicles. Fifty subjects were asked,
“About how fast were the cars going when
they smashed into each other?” Fifty subjects
were asked, “About how fast were the cars
going when they hit each other?” Fifty
subjects were not interrogated about vehicular
speed.

One week later, the subjects returned and
without viewing the film again they answered
a series of questions about the accident, The
critical question here was, “Did you see any
broken glass?” which the subjects answered
by checking “yes” or “no.” This question was
embedded in a list totalling 10 questions, and
it appeared in a random position in the list.
There was no broken glass in the accident,
but, since broken glass is commensurate with
accidents occurring at high speed, we expected
that the subjects who had been asked the
smashed question might more often say “yes”

k to this critical question.

Results
The mean estimate of speed for subjects

interrogated with smaslted was 10.46 mph;

Verb condition

Response Smashed Hit Control
~-

Yes 16 7 6
No 34 43 44

Table 2 presents the distribution of ‘.yes”
and “no” responses for the smashed, Itit, and
control subjects. An independence chi-square
test on these responses was significant beyond
the .025 level, ~ ~ ( 2 ) = 7.76. The important
result in Table 2 i s that the probability of
saying “yes,” P(Y), to the question about
broken glass is .32 when the verb sn?a.died is
used, and .14 with hit. Thus smashed leads
both to more “yes” responses and to higher
speed estimates. It appears to be the case that
the effect of the verb is mediated at least in
part by the speed estimate. The question now
arises : Is sniushed doing anything else besides
increasing the estimate of speed? To answer
this, the function relating P(Y) to speed
estimate was calculated separately for stiiashed
and hit. If the speed estimate is the only way
in which effect of verb is mediated, then for a
given speed estimate, P(Y) should be in-
dependent of verb. Table 3 shows that this is

TABLE 3

PROBABILITY OF SAYING “YES” TO, “DID Y O U SEE

ANY B R O K ~ N GLASS?’ CONDIT~ONALIZED ON SPEED

ESTIMATES

Speed estimate (mph)
Verb —

condition 1-5 6-10 11-15 16-20

Smashed .09 .27 .41 .62
Hit .06 .09 .25 .50

588 LOFTUS AP

not the case. P(Y) is lower for hit than for
smashed; the difference between the two verbs
ranges from .03 for estimates of 1-5 mph to
.I8 for estimates of 6-10 mph. The average
difference between the two curves is about .12.
Whereas the unconditional difference of . I8
between the smashed and hit conditions is
attenuated, it is by no means eliminated when
estimate of speed is controlled for. It thus
appears that the verb smashed has other effects
besides that of simply increasing the estimate
of speed. One possibility will be discussed in
the next section.

DISCUSSION

To reiterate, we have first of all provided an
additional demonstration of something that
has been known for some time, namely, that
the way a question is asked can enormously
influence the answer that is given. In this
instance, the question, “About how fast were
the cars going when they smashed into each
other?” led to higher estimates of speed than
the same question asked with the verb
smashed replaced by hit. Furthermore, this
seemingly small change had consequences for
how questions are answered a week after the
original event occurred.

As a framework for discussing these results,
we would like to propose that two kinds of
information go into one’s memory for some
complex occurrence. The first is information
gleaned during the perception of the original
event; the second is external information
supplied after the fact. Over time, information
from these two sources may be integrated in
such a way that we are unable to tell from
which source some specific detail is recalled.
All we have is one “memory.”

Discussing the present experiments in these
terms, we propose that the subject first forms
some representation of the accident he has
witnessed. The experimenter then, while
asking, “About how fast were the cars going
when they smashed into each other?” supplies
a piece of external information, namely, that
the cars did indeed smash into each other.

4D PALMER

When these two pieces of information are
integrated, the subject has a memory of an
accident that was more severe than in fact it
was. Since broken glass is commensurate
with a severe accident, the subject is more
likely to think that broken glass was present.

There is some connection between the
present work and earlier work on the influence
of verbal labels on memory for visually
presented form stimuli. A classic study in
psychology showed that when subjects are
asked to reproduce a visually presented form,
their drawings tend to err in the direction of a
more familiar object suggested by a verbal
label initially associated with the to-be-
remembered form (Carmichael, Hogan, &
Walter, 1932). More recently, Daniel (1972)
showed that recognition memory, as well as
reproductive memory, was similarly affected
by verbal labels, and he concluded that the
verbal label causes a shift in the memory
strength of forms which are better representa-
tives of the label.

When the experimenter asks the subject,
“About how fast were the cars going when
they smashed into each other?”, he is effect-
ively labeling the accident a smash. Extra-
polating the conclusions of Daniel to this
situation, it is natural to conclude that the
label, smash, causes a shift in the memory
representation of the accident in the direction
of being more similar to a representation sug-
gested by the verbal label.

REFERENCES

BIRD, C. The influence of the press upon the accuracy
of report. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psy-

BLOCK, R . A. Memory and the experience of duration
in retrospect. Memory & Cogtiition, 1974, 2,

BRANSFORD, J. D., & MCCARRELL, N. S. A sketch of a
cognitive approach to comprehension : Some
thoughts about understanding what it means to
comprehend. In D. Palerrno & W. Weimer (Eds.),
Cognition arid the synibolic processes. Washington,
D.C.: V . H. Winston & Co., in press.

chology, 1927,22, 123-1 29.

I 53-1 60.

3

CAHMICHAI I-, L . , HO(iAN, I I. l’., & WAI I I I(, A . A .
experimental study of the etl’ect ol’ language 011

the reproduction of visually perceived form.
Journal of Experimental Psychology, 1932, 15,

CLARK, H. H. The language-as-fixed-effect fallacy: A
critique of language statistics in psychological
research. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal
Behavior, 1973,12,335-359.

DANIEL, T. C. Nature of the effect of verbal labels on
recognition memory for form. Journal of Experi-
mental Psychology, 1972,96, 152-1 57.

FILLMORE, C. J. Types of lexical information. In
D. D. Steinberg and L. A. Jakobovits (Eds.),
Semantics: An interdisciplinary reader in philo-

73-86.

3

sopl~y, t i i l ~ i i i . ~ / i c ~ v , tiircl p.v.i,c.liolcJ,~J.i.. C’iitiil~i.iclgc :
Cambritlgc University Press, 1971.

GARDNER, D. S. The perception and memory of
witnesses. Cornell Law Quarterly, 1933, 8,
391 -409.

MARSHALL, J. Law and psychology in conflict. New
York: Anchor Books, 1969.

ORNSTEIN, R. E. On the experience of time. Harmonds-
worth. Middlesex. England: Penguin, 1969.

WHIPPLE, G. M. The observer as reporter: A survey of
the psychology of testimony. Psychological
Bulletin, 1909, 6 , 153-170.

Supreme Court Reporter, 1973, 3 : Rules of Evidence
for United State Courts and Magistrates.

(Received April 17, 1974)

7th Edition
Reference Guide for Journal Articles,
Books, and Edited Book Chapters

Journal
Article

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Year). Title of the article.

Name of the Periodical, volume(issue), #–#. https://doi.org/xxxx

Invert names so that the last name comes first,
followed by a comma and the initials. Leave a space
between initials. Retain the order of authors’ names.

Place the year
in parentheses.
End with a period.

Capitalize only the first letter of the first word. For a two-part
title, capitalize the first word of the second part of the title. Also
capitalize proper nouns. Do not italicize. End with a period.

Capitalize all major words in the
periodical name. Follow with a
comma. Italicize the periodical
name (but not the comma after).

Italicize the volume number. Do not
put a space between the volume
number and the parentheses
around the issue number.

Do not italicize the issue number or
parentheses. Follow the parentheses with
a comma. No issue number? That’s okay.
Follow the volume number with a comma.

Include the article page
range. Use an en dash; do
not put spaces around the
en dash. End with a period.

Does the article have a
DOI? Include a DOI for all
works that have one. Do not
put a period after the DOI.

Book
Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Copyright Year). Title of the book (7th ed.).

Publisher. DOI or URL

Invert names so that the last name comes first,
followed by a comma and the initials. Leave a space
between initials. Retain the order of authors’ names.

Place the copyright year
in parentheses. End with
a period.

Capitalize only the first letter of the first word. For a two-part
title, capitalize the first word of the second part of the title. Also
capitalize proper nouns. Italicize the title. End with a period.

Include the name of the publisher, followed
by a period. Do not include the publisher
location. Are there multiple publishers?
If so, separate them with a semicolon.

Does the book have a DOI? Include a DOI if available.
Do not include a URL or database information for works from
academic research databases. Include a URL for ebooks from
other websites. Do not put a period after the DOI or URL.

Does the book have an edition or volume number? If so, include
the number in parentheses after the title but before the period. If both,
show edition first and volume second, separated by a comma. Do
not put a period between the title and the parenthetical information.

Chapter in
an Edited Book

Author, A. A., & Author, B. B. (Copyright Year). Title of the book chapter.

In A. A. Editor & B. B. Editor (Eds.), Title of the book (2nd ed., pp. #–#).

Publisher. DOI or URL

Invert names so that the last name comes first,
followed by a comma and the initials. Leave a space
between initials. Retain the order of authors’ names.

Place the copyright year
in parentheses. End with
a period.

Capitalize only the first letter of the first word. For a two-part
title, capitalize the first word of the second part of the title.
Also capitalize proper nouns. Do not italicize. End with a period.

Write the word “In” and the initials
and last name (not inverted) of
each editor. Use “(Ed.)” for one
editor or “(Eds.)” for multiple
editors. End with a comma.

Provide the title of the book in which
the chapter appears. Capitalize only
the first letter of the first word. For a
two-part title, capitalize the first word
of the second part of the title. Also
capitalize proper nouns. Italicize the
book title.

Include the chapter page range. End with a period.
Does the book have an edition or volume
number? If so, include the number in parentheses
before the page range. If both, show edition
first and volume second, separated by a comma,
before the page range. Do not put a period
between the title and the parenthetical information.

Include the name of the publisher followed
by a period. Do not include the publisher
location. If there are multiple publishers,
separate them with a semicolon.

Does the book have a DOI or URL? Include a DOI if available.
Do not include a URL or database information for works from
academic research databases. Include a URL for ebooks from
other websites. Do not put a period after the DOI or URL.

More information on reference variations not shown here (e.g., in-press articles, articles with article numbers, articles without DOIs, books with titled volumes,
audiobooks) can be found in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (7th ed.) and in the Concise Guide to APA Style (7th ed.):

Journal articles and other periodicals Section 10.1
Books and reference works Section 10.2
Edited book chapters and entries in reference works Section 10.3

SOURCE: American Psychological Association. (2020).
Publication manual of the American Psychological
Association (7th ed.). https://doi.org/10.1037/0000165-000

CREDIT: MELANIE R. FOWLER, FLORIDA SOUTHERN COLLEGE

Links

Textbook: https://kpu.pressbooks.pub/psychmethods4e/

Apa: https://apastyle.apa.org/

Title page set up: https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/paper-format/title-page

Video from module: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QauomrFcrXk

Reference List: Basic Rules

https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/paper-format/title-page

Examples https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/references/examples/


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