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Covenant Psychology Students Publish Research Article on Facebook Usage

Three Covenant College psychology students, Claudia Canales '10, Brooke Wilbanks '11, and Anna Yeoman '10, under the direction of Professor Phil Wright, have published an article in Modern Psychological Studies, a refereed journal of undergraduate research published by the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The article, entitled "Facebook Usage in Relation to Personality and Academic Performance," appeared in the spring 2009 volume of the journal.


Canales, Wilbanks, and Yeoman conducted their research for an "Introduction to Research Methods" class taught by Professor Wright in the fall of 2007. By surveying sixty-one college students, they found that students who use Facebook more often generally have lower GPAs and tend more towards extraversion and neurosis (associated with anxiety, anger, depression, and impulsivity) than those students who use Facebook less.


In the spring of 2009, Canales, Wilbanks, and Yeoman presented their research at the Southeastern Psychological Association (SEPA) conference in New Orleans. 


According to Wright, "This is the first time in memory that psychology students have published research while still studying for their degrees at Covenant. . . . The Facebook study is important because it adds to the growing literature on the psychological impact of social networking."


Associate Professor of Psychology Kevin Eames adds, "It is doubly significant that their research was accepted at SEPA and solicited for publication. It indicates that their peers believed it to be valuable enough to add to the research literature."


Canales, Wilbanks, and Yeoman wanted to study the growing impact social networking has on culture today. "Facebook is very popular among all ages, and it is becoming an increasingly important means of communication, so our findings are important correlations to know," says Yeoman.


"Impersonal relationships are being established through Facebook," says Canales. "There has not been enough time to analyze what is going on with ourselves while technology keeps growing-we just kind of catch on. That's why it's important to study Facebook."


"Insofar as the neuroticism factor is concerned, it is possible that Facebook usage exacerbates rather than alleviates the behaviors associated with neurotic personality traits," says Eames. "It may be one of the voices that suggest that ‘social networking' is in fact a form of anti-social networking. Since communication and social interaction are fundamental aspects of how we image God, we need a better understanding of the benefits and drawbacks from social networking."