How to help your friends, family and yourself navigate social media with self-representational mediation
A new study by the University of Minnesota shows that when people are more self-represented, they are less likely to get angry, or to become distressed, in social situations.
Researchers led by Dr. Sarah L. Johnson, associate professor of psychology, found that when participants were asked to represent themselves in social interactions, they tended to self-present in a more emotionally neutral manner than those who did not have a strong connection to their own personal narrative.
Participants also were less likely than others to feel anxious or distressed when they felt the need to take action, such as helping others, or expressing emotions.
Participant self-expression was negatively related to emotional distress.
Dr. Johnson said the research has important implications for helping people feel comfortable expressing emotions in social settings.
She said it can be especially important for young children and people who experience distress.
She said children may need to feel less isolated and feel less overwhelmed by their surroundings, so they can become more aware of their emotional states.
Dr Johnson said social media is an especially important area of research because it can allow people to self communicate with others.
The study was published online in the journal Psychological Science, which is a publication of the Association for Psychological Science.
Johnson said one important part of the research was to investigate how people’s personal narratives might affect how they perceive themselves.
She and her colleagues used a computer-based task in which participants were presented with images of themselves and asked to self identify themselves.
Participants were then asked to assess how strongly they felt about their personal narratives.
The results showed that participants who felt they were more emotionally present during the task tended to have more negative self-evaluations of themselves than participants who did have a stronger connection to the narrative.
Johnson added that the findings have implications for how people deal with social media because they can be used to self evaluate their personal stories and reactions to social situations, including anger and distress.
She also said there are many other possible mechanisms that could contribute to negative feelings and distress in social media.
Dr L.A. Johnson is a professor of Psychology and Director of the Center for Media, Media, and Communication at the University at Buffalo.
She is the author of “The Power of Self-Representation: The Psychology of Self Representation.”ABC News’ Kelly O’Brien and Mark Felsenthal contributed to this report.
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