Stalking Your Facebook Friends Before Meeting Them Is A Bad Idea

August 7, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

Internet creepers, take note: a new study from Cyberpsychology suggests that stalking acquaintances online before meeting them IRL won’t lead to a better interaction. Researcher Sharon Rauch at Arizona’s Benedictine University tested the “arousal” of subjects in four different conditions. Medical Daily described the set up:

The first group simply saw a person’s Facebook page, and the second group took in the sight of a new person in a room. The third group, meanwhile, saw a person’s Facebook page, then saw that very person in the room. And the fourth group saw the person first, then checked their Facebook page afterwards. During this time, the participants were hooked up to monitors that measured electrical signals in their skin, which shows their arousal levels

Counterintuitively, researchers found that people who had previously seen a stranger on Facebook were actually more aroused in their presence. It’s difficult to tell if this means those subjects were anxious or just excited, as their blood was not tested for stress hormones.

Subjects who had the highest levels of social anxiety (determined by a survey prior to the experiment) were the most aroused by meeting a stranger in the flesh, showing that the internet may still be a less stressful environment for people who are socially anxious. Still, Rauch doesn’t recommend it. “If your goal is to calm yourself for the face-to-face encounter, Facebook is probably not the best strategy,” she told Time. (Photo: Steven Mileham)