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Effects of Unfriending Studied

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 02:03PM

With the advent of the Internet and social networking, it is possible for one person to be connected to hundreds of people, or more. Just as in real life though, there may come a time for those connections to end, and but on the Internet, 'unfriending' someone is just a click away. For years now, researchers at the University of Colorado Denver have been studying the process of unfriending, and its impacts.

The researchers have already published two papers on the topic, with the first focusing on who is most likely to be unfriended. At the top of the list was 'high-school friends,' followed by 'other,' 'friend of a friend,' 'work friends,' and 'common interest friends.' The researchers suggest that the reason high-school friends are so often unfriended is because in high school, people may be young enough that their political and/or religious beliefs; two topics that can lead to offensive disagreements. Also work friends were typically unfriended over something that happened in real life, and not necessarily online. The second papers considered the impacts of unfriending someone. The most common response was that it surprised them, with 'it bothered me,' 'I was amused,' and 'I felt sad' after it. The researchers also identified factors that predict the unfriended person's response, including if they were once a close friend, if they monitor their friend's list, if difficulties were discussed beforehand, and if they talked with others about being unfriended afterward.

While this may seem like a silly piece of research, it can have real world consequences and unfriending is an intentional act, compared to leaving someone on a friends list. Both studies used survey responses from 1077 people over Twitter.

Source: University of Colorado Denver

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