Academic Literature, Tools & Tips

Facebook / Users who have recently lost a job feel greater stress

Among those who have recently lost a job, social networksin general and online ones in particular may be useful to cope with stress and find new employment write Moira Burke and Robert Kraut in Using Facebook after Losing a Job: Differential Benefits of Strong and Weak Ties on (Adapted choosen excerpts by JMM to follow)

The study focuses on the psychological and practical consequences of Facebook use following job loss. By pairing longitudinal surveys of Facebook users with logs of their online behavior, the authors examine how communication with different kinds of ties predicts improvements in stress, social support, bridging social capital, and whether they find new jobs.

Losing a job is associated with increases in stress, while talking with strong ties is generally associated with improvements in stress and social support. Weak ties do not provide these benefits. Bridging social capital comes from both strong and weak ties. Surprisingly, individuals who have lost a job feel greater stress after talking with strong ties. Contrary to the “strength of weak ties” hypothesis, communication with strong ties is more predictive of finding employment within three months.

In summary, this research demonstrates that Facebook communication predicts changes in the psychological and practical outcomes associated with losing a job. Directed communication with strong ties generally had positive effects, and was associated with overall reductions in stress, increases in perceived social support, increases in bridging social capital and the likelihood of finding a job. However, it was also associated with strong increases in stress among those who recently lost a job. Directed communication with weaker ties had weaker effects. Consistent with the idea that weak ties bring access to new information, communication with them was associated with increases in bridging social capital, and especially so among people who recently lost a job. However, nconsistent with Granovetter’s strength of weak ties hypothesis, communication with weak ties was not associated with getting a new job.

Although these results are consistent with a thesis that causal effects of interpersonal communication on psychological and practical outcomes depend on one’s closeness to the communication partners, they do not identify the pathways producing these effects, assuming they exist.

In concluding, the authors speculate on some of the causal processes that could account for the patterns of results observed in this research.

Job Market Monitor: Well, I conclude that if you have just lost your job, do not spend too much time on Facebook the first three weeks. Go outside and take a daily walk!


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