Description: How much does a Facebook "friendship" really mean? One researcher explored it by creating a fake account on the social networking website with only a limited amount of personal information that could make it appear the person is a college student. The question was, would study participants accept the friendship?
Researchers: Robert Lemieux, a McDaniel College professor whose previous research and teaching have touched on romantic relationships, health campaigns and the culture of organizations.
Stage of research: The results, published in the August issue of research journal Psychological Reports, found that for many Facebook users, there is a low bar when it comes to accepting friends. Nearly three-fourths of the study participants approved a friend request from the fictitious classmate.
Implications: The research shows that some social norms on Facebook may differ from those of normal face-to-face interactions. "In essence," Lemieux wrote, "members accepted the friendship of someone they didn't know, and considering the inequity of information exchanged, the acceptance is counter to norms of reciprocity."
Notable breakthrough: What makes a Facebook 'friend'?
McDaniel professor explores how open users are to strangers
Robert Lemieux (Courtesy McDaniel College, Baltimore Sun / May 9, 2011)