Private flirts, public friends: Understanding romantic jealousy responses to an ambiguous social network site message as a function of message access exclusivity

Elizabeth L. Cohen, Nicholas D. Bowman, Katherine Borchert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations

Abstract

Research indicates that social network site use can amplify romantic jealousy, but studies have yet to identify the causes a for these reactions. An experiment was conducted to examine how message exclusivity affects jealousy responses to a hypothetical scenario. A total of 191 undergraduates were randomly assigned to imagine their potential emotional and behavioral responses to an ambiguous message given by their partner to a romantic rival, either in a private Facebook message (high exclusivity) or posted publicly as a message on the rival's Facebook wall (low exclusivity). Those participants reading about high exclusivity messages reported more negative emotion and were more likely to imagine being confrontational. Threat perception and negative emotion both predicted confrontational behavior. There was an indirect effect of message access exclusivity on threat perception through negative emotion; there was no direct association between exclusivity and threat perception. This research has implications for the study of message processing on social network sites and the conceptualization of masspersonal communication.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-541
Number of pages7
JournalComputers in Human Behavior
Volume35
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2014

Keywords

  • Emotion
  • Facebook
  • Jealousy
  • Masspersonal communication
  • Social network site

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