New Research Examines Why People Stalk Their Partners on Facebook

C. Price

Written by: C. Price

C. Price

C. Price is part of's content team. She writes advice articles, how-to guides, and studies — all relating to dating, relationships, love, sex, and more.

Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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The practice of keeping tabs on what your partner is (or is not) up to has existed long before social media came along.

But does checking up on your partner’s online activity say something about your own psychology?

New research published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking considers the possible link between such snooping and a person’s individual attachment style.

Attachment styles are typically formed early, built from the interaction we experience in early childhood through our parents or other caregivers.

Those found to have a “fearful” or “preoccupied” attachment style did, in fact, check up on what their partner was doing more often.

Those found to have more of a “secure” or “dismissive” style were found less likely to snoop.

“Those with a ‘fearful’ attachment style did

check up on their partner more often.”

For the study, 328 male and female college students were each given three surveys. Most of the participants were straight and white, from a “large Midwestern university.”

They were each asked to estimate how often they visit their partner’s social media profiles and rate their level of security in the relationship.

Some of the questions were also aimed at determining a respondent’s individual attachment style.

Jessie Fox, of Ohio State University, and Katie Warber, of Wittenberg University, conceived the study, titled “Social Networking Sites in Romantic Relationships: Attachment, Uncertainty and Partner Surveillance on Facebook.”

One downside to the new technology that experts warn about is once a relationship ends, some personality types may have a harder time letting go.

“Prior to social networking tools, it was more difficult to monitor a former partner’s life,” said Brenda K. Wiederhold, the journal’s editor-in-chief. “While social networking provides many positives, the ability to conduct interpersonal electronic surveillance may lead some individuals to suffer with prolonged feelings of uncertainty after a relationship ends.”


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