Over one million Swedes feel bad if they aren’t continuously hooked up to Facebook (the social networking service and website). People with less education, less income and women in particular who use Facebook are less happy.

This according to the first big Swedish study of Facebook.


“Facebook creates an unconscious addiction,” says Leif Denti, doctoral candidate in psychology at Göteborg University. Half of the Swedish population, 4.5 million people, use Facebook. Over 3 million of them log in daily. The usage of Facebook is spreading worldwide and has in a short time become an integral part of many Swedes’ lives. Leif Denti and his colleague Isak Barbopoulos and Ida Nilsson, communications officer at the advertising agency Valentin&Byhr, wanted to find out what Facebook does to us, and how it influences us. Since last summer they’ve employed the help of students at the college in Skövde, and they’ve polled 1000 Swedish Facebook users in the ages 14-74, and the result surprised them in many ways.

“That every fourth person says they feel bad if they cannot log on to Facebook on a regular basis, that it makes them feel left behind, that was an awakening,” says Ida Nilsson. Swedish women spend an average of 81 minutes daily on Facebook, more than men, who according to the study spend 64 minutes on Facebook. People with less education and lower salaries also spend more time on Facebook, and women in particular feel worse the more time they spend on their Facebook page. Denti and Nilsson aren’t sure why that is.

“We think it might be because they compare themselves with other people’s profiles. People are quick to put up photos of themselves when they’re happy, which creates an illusion of happiness, you never see the people in real life, when they are not happy. And if you compare yourself with others, you feel worse and less happy,” says Denti. Another theory around the Facebook/happiness relationship is that many unhappy people turn to the social network. And it is this relation that Nilsson and Denti want to study more. Another issue they want to investigate is why more men than women put out provocative material on the site. Meanwhile, Denti is not so sure Facebook is here to stay.

“We have learnt to be social online and we will continue being so, but if it is Facebook that offers the possibility or some other site, I don’t know,” he says. Nilsson meanwhile points out that there are other networks as well, and that Facebook wil change. “People get more aware. They don’t just publish anything anymore. They’ve realized a whole lot of people can see it,” she concludes.

The full report: Sweden's largest Facebook study (Intro in Swedish, the actual report is in English)
Abstract: Facebook Study, Göteborgs Universitet

Authors and Institution at the University, Göteborg: Leif Denti (Gothenburg Research Institute (GRI) & Department of Psychology); Isak Barbopuolos (-); Ida Nilsson (-); Linda Holmberg (-); Magdalena Thulin (-); Malin Wendeblad (-); Lisa Andén (-); Emelie Davidsson (-)