American Journal of Applied Psychology
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American Journal of Applied Psychology. 2019, 7(1), 20-29
DOI: 10.12691/ajap-7-1-3
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“If You Disagree, Unfriend Me Now”: Exploring the Phenomenon of Invited Unfriending

Kory Floyd1, , Robert Matheny2, Dana R. Dinsmore1, Benjamin E. Custer1 and Nathan T. Woo1

1Department of Communication, University of Arizona, PO Box 210025, Tucson AZ 85721-0025

2Department of Communication, Wayne State University, 906 W Warren Avenue, #585, Detroit MI 48201

Pub. Date: July 11, 2019

Cite this paper:
Kory Floyd, Robert Matheny, Dana R. Dinsmore, Benjamin E. Custer and Nathan T. Woo. “If You Disagree, Unfriend Me Now”: Exploring the Phenomenon of Invited Unfriending. American Journal of Applied Psychology. 2019; 7(1):20-29. doi: 10.12691/ajap-7-1-3


The belongingness hypothesis suggests that humans have a fundamental need to form and maintain meaningful social bonds. Yet two contradictory impulses seem to guide associative behaviors: the need for inclusion and the tendency for in-group preference. The phenomenon of invited unfriending—posting message on social media petitioning those who differ from the poster on some stance to sever the relationship—exemplifies this tension. Two studies examined the types of messages users post when petitioning disconnection as well as the characteristics and behaviors of posters and recipients. First, a thematic analysis of 515 invited unfriending posts revealed that having different likes or dislikes, being unable or willing to do something the poster deems important, and being too politically conservative were the top three reasons for inviting unfriending. Subsequently, a survey of 445 Facebook users found that nearly 10% had invited unfriending and nearly 75% had received such an invitation. Posters did not differ substantially from non-posters, and both posters and recipients identified themes that were largely similar with those identified in the thematic analysis.

unfriending defriending homophily disconnection social network sites social media Facebook facebook users

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