SAGE has released a new edition of the Relationship Matters podcast (hosted by Dr. Bjarne Holmes of Champlain College). Dr. Stephen Rains (University of Arizona) was interviewed regarding his research on how too many superficial disclosures can hurt a friendship. In case you’re wondering, superficial disclosures refer to small, irrelevant details about what’s going on in one’s daily life.
The research team (including Steven Brunner and Kyle Oman, also of the University of Arizona) asked 199 adults to provide a record of all communications they had with specific friends over a 1-week period; the key is that each communication ‘episode’ had to involve some form of technology (e.g., text, e-mail, Facebook, twitter). Participants then reported how much they liked each friend with whom they interacted and also indicated how willing they would be to support each friend in times of need.
Friends who disclosed a lot (want to know what constitutes ‘a lot’? Listen to the podcast!) of superficial information via technology were less liked and study participants reported that their friendships with these friends were overall less satisfying than were friendships with friends who did not engage in much superficial disclosure.
The podcast discussion goes further by getting into how modern communication technologies are both a blessing and a curse – a blessing in the sense that we can easily have access to friends constantly; but a curse if we choose to abuse those connections by bombarding our friends with moment to moment superficial updates of what is happening in our lives.
Rains, S. A., Brunner, S. R., & Oman, K. (in press). Self-disclosure and new communication technologies: The implications of receiving superficial self-disclosures from friends. Journal of Social and Personal Relationships.