February 27, 2016

What’s in a Like? Attitudes and Behaviors Around Receiving Likes on Facebook

Computer-Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing

By: Lauren Scissors, Moira Burke, Steve Wengrovitz

Abstract

What social value do Likes on Facebook hold? This research examines people’s attitudes and behaviors related to receiving one-click feedback in social media. Likes and other kinds of lightweight affirmation serve as social cues of acceptance and maintain interpersonal relationships, but may mean different things to different people. Through surveys and de-identified, aggregated behavioral Facebook data, we find that in general, people care more about who Likes their posts than how many Likes they receive, desiring feedback most from close friends, romantic partners, and family members other than their parents. While most people do not feel strongly that receiving “enough” Likes is important, roughly two-thirds of posters regularly receive more than “enough.” We also note a “Like paradox,” a phenomenon in which people’s friends receive more Likes because their friends have more friends to provide those Likes. Individuals with lower levels of self- esteem and higher levels of self-monitoring are more likely to think that Likes are important and to feel bad if they do not receive “enough” Likes. The results inform product design and our understanding of how lightweight interactions shape our experiences online.