Optimistic Biases among Facebook Users: Self-Other Discrepant Perceptions toward Potential Risks and Benefits of Facebook Use
Despite the accumulating evidence on the positive and negative outcomes of Facebook use, how people perceive themselves to be subject to these outcomes as well as the consequences and mechanisms of these perceptions are underexplored. According to optimistic bias, Facebook users may perceive that bad things are more likely to happen to others than to themselves, while good things are more likely to happen to them than to others. The findings from an online survey among Facebook users indicate that the negative psychological and social outcomes of using Facebook were perceived to be more likely to happen to other Facebook users than to themselves, p<0.001. These self-other discrepant perceptions toward negative social events (e.g., Facebook cyberbullying and scams) significantly mediated one’s willingness to support Internet regulation, Sobel z=2.49, p=0.01. For positive outcomes of Facebook use, the direction of optimistic bias was reversed, t(235) = -5.52, p<0.01, indicating that people minimized the likelihoods of experiencing positive events from Facebook while assessing that other Facebook users are prone to encounter those positive events. This reversal pattern emerged among those with negative attitudes toward, and low involvement with, Facebook. These findings demonstrate important and novel self-other discrepant perceptions concerning the risks and benefits of Facebook use.