“Virtually Unhappy”: Poster Presentation at Digital Consumption Symposium, Cass Business School, City University London

Download/View: poster

Virtually Unhappy: How Probability Neglect in Social Comparison Biases Judgments of Satisfaction with Life on Facebook

screen-shot-2016-10-16-at-6-06-49-pmDr. Mudra Mukesh

Marketing, Events and Tourism

University of Greenwich



Dr. Dilney Goncalves

Marketing Department

IE Business School – IE University



Dr. Margarita Mayo

Department of Organizational Behviour

IE Business School-IE University




With the advent of social networking sites, unprecedented social influence has pervaded our daily lives. Across two studies we show that even though people feel more satisfied with their lives when they view recently added friends on Facebook, reading friends’ posts on Facebook makes them feel less satisfied with their lives. This occurs since the more Facebook friends people have, the more ostentatious information they see. Further, because people fail to draw a connection between the number of friends and the amount of ostentatious information they see on Facebook, they experience a drop in their life satisfaction. We also show that this decrease in life satisfaction is mediated by feelings of envy.

The contribution of this article is twofold. First, we show how ignoring the probability of available information used to make social comparisons can impact the outcome of those comparisons. In doing so, this research brings to light the representativeness of the information that engenders social comparison and represents one of the first studies to focus on the nature of informational cues people use to make social comparisons. Secondly, from a practical viewpoint, the context of the study – Facebook – provides an extremely relevant setting in which to examine this relationship. Contrary to conventional wisdom and literature, our research proposes and shows that having a large number of friends on social networking sites may be detrimental to the well-being of users as it can generate envy. With more than 1.13 billion daily active Facebook users (Facebook, 2016), this research has clear implications for the life satisfaction of millions.

The Dark Side of Social Media


8796 photos per second on Snapchat, 487 photos per second uploaded on Instagram , 7141 tweets in one second are sent on Twitter, and Facebook users upload more than 250 mn photos everyday . That’s a lot of numbers. Sure. But they clearly indicate one thing – with a proliferating user base across social media platforms we are more and more inclined to share our lives on the web – selfies, travel plans, romantic updates, professional accomplishments, sarcasm, humour and political views.

We get to be a part of this online community, we get to know what’s going on, we deal with the #FOMO and we share our lives with our friends and acquaintances all the while taking in information about others. While this may work best when it comes to developing connections, staying updated, getting out our views across to others, and building camaraderie, there are some things we have to consider – some of which can be detrimental to us.

Read more here.

Hotels or Hosts: Who will win the battle in the era of the sharing economy?


Airbnb has been valued at over $24 billion earlier this year. Is that surprising, considering the company owns none of the rooms it “offers” on it’s website through the “hosts”? Perhaps a little. But these are the facets of the sharing economy that most of are a familiar with. Uber, Lyft, and TaskRabbit, have been around for a while, and the way they are disrupting their respective industries is old news. Take the acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts by Marriott for $12.2 billion. Was this move an attempt by Marriott to join forces with Starwood to reckon with the force that is airbnb or is that too premature?

Read the full post on Linkedin.

Sentiment, Semantics and Some Snapdeal: A Brief Discussion on the Usefulness of Sentiment Analysis

So I have a new post about Sentiment Analysis. Excerpt below.

“One person’s data is another person’s noise.”
―  K.C. Cole (Author of the Universe and the Teacup)

The last couples of weeks I have been discussing Social Media Monitoring and Listening in my social media lectures. With so much content being created and shared on social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Linkedin, brands need to constantly listen for relevant conversations, words, and themes to inform them of the sentiment around their products, brands and the organization itself.The listening has to be calibrated according to the goal of course: if the goal is awareness then one way of measuring it would be to see how many people are using the name of the brand in conversations across social and to what extent is the conversation positive or negative. This is where sentiment analysis or opinion mining would fit in. Usually, considering the number of data points, sentiment analysis is performed by written programs. To perform it manually for 500 mn tweets sent out everyday would be humanly impossible. There is a range of tools available to track sentiment online…

Read the complete post on Linkedin.

Virtual Experiment Update: Week 1 of Socialising on Facebook

It’s been about a week since I decided that I will speak to all of my 700 + Facebook friends. So 102 people and hundreds of minutes of chat later here is what I have to report:

Day 1: Almost all the 30 odd people I messaged replied back. I was not expecting this. Faith in humanity restored.

Day 2: Reeling from too much socializing. Recovering.

Day 3: 20 people messaged. All responded.

Day 4: Break

Day 5: 20 people were messaged. All responded. Reconnected with old friends and people I hadn’t spoken to in years. Felt good that even though I had not spoken to so many people in ages, everyone was so responsive.

Day 6: Got late at work so took a break.

Day 7: Spoke to 25+ people. Everyone except one responded. Reflection: I have spoken to 100 odd people, and there are atleast 600 more to go. Who are these people? Feels like I have spoken to everyone I know.

Response rate of week 1: Out of 102 people I messaged, 100 responded.

Here is to another week, and more socializing. May the introvert in me find the courage to endure!

The Virtual Adventure

I have 726 friends on Facebook. Now while I think this is a lot, what do statistics show? The median number of Facebook friends is 200. Half of the billion + Facebook users have “200 or fewer” friends where as the other half has more.The average number of Facebook friends is about 338 (Source: http://bigthink.com/praxis/do-you-have-too-many-facebook-friends) and 15% users have more than 500 Facebook Friends http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/03/6-new-facts-about-facebook/. So I guess now you know where I stand.

Now, its easy to add people on Facebook or stay connected with that guy you met at a party in 2008, but does having so many friends actually mean anything? What about its consequences from a purely social perspective? (Forget envy, fear of missing out or FOMO or any other complicated repercussion). Just how feasible it is to manage a network so large?

Robin Dunbar actually found that people can only cognitively handle about 150 relationships (For the paper click here). Anything greater than this and we falter, and cant operate at the “optimal processing capacity”. A great article in the New Yorker talks about the Dunbar number and having too many friends, you can access it here. This article also says that with the evolving virtual environments perhaps we can better handle an increased number of connections – since we can browse at peoples feed at will and not require intensive contact to be updated about others’ lives. So essentially, I could be sitting in my PJs watching The Walking Dead and be informed of the upcoming nuptials of my friend from high school on Facebook, congratulate her and then move on to chat with another friend about the lack of walkers in the Fear the Walking Dead Pilot. So theoretically it is possible to have tons of friends on Facebook and not be compromised in anyway.

So in order to prove this I have decided to set off on a “virtual adventure” of sorts.

Now what might this entail?

Simple: In the next one month I am going to initiate a conversation with all my 726 Facebook Friends. Now this might be weird, because I believe I may not have spoken to some folks for 10 years or more and it may be for a reason. But in the name of sociological research I shall put my introverted reflexes aside and speak to every single one of my Facebook friends. So if you hear from me on Facebook, you shouldn’t be surprised.

The objective:

-Say more than “Hi, whatsup?”

-Enquire as to the wellbeing and whereabouts of everyone

-The conversation must last 5 minutes on Facebook messenger

Now I assume some people may not bother to reply to my messages. In which case, I am open to suggestions. What should I do? Remove said individuals from my contact list or initiate contact again?

I will be writing about my “virtual adventure” here.

*Watch this space*