According to a new study by researchers at Western Illinois University (WIU), the pattern of your Facebook activity may reveal "socially disruptive" narcissist tendencies.
My Fox Phoenix reports the study included over 290 individuals whose self-promoting behaviours on Facebook were measured. The Guardian reports the study used students aged between 18 and 65, using measures of two socially disruptive narcissist traits, the first grandiose exhibitionism (GE) and entitlement/exploitativeness (EE).
According to Mashable, experts say GE includes "self-absorption, vanity, superiority, and exhibitionist tendencies." People who score high in GE strive constantly for attention and behave to attract attention to themselves. EE is expressed in a "sense of deserving respect and a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others".
Measures of narcissistic self-promoting behavior used in the study included frequency of updates, the number of times individuals changed photos of themselves and frequency of profile updates.
The study noted that Facebook "offers a gateway for hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication" for the average narcissist. Facebook socializing is also favoured by people with narcissist tendencies because it gives them control over how they are presented and how they are perceived by friends.
The study linked the number of friends you have on Facebook to the degree of "socially disruptive" narcissism. People who scored high in the Narcissist Personality Inventory questionnaire had more friends on Facebook. People who tagged themselves more often and updated their posts on Facebook more often also scored higher in the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire. The study, according to The Guardian, also showed that people with high scores in the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire tended to react more aggressively to negative comments made about them, get upset when people did not comment on their postings, and showed anti-social tendencies such as seeking social support more than they provided it. People with narcissistic personalities were also more likely to accept friendship requests from strangers.
The Guardian reports that the study comes amidst growing research evidence of an increasing trend of narcissistic behavior among young people on social networking sites, the pattern being characterised by obsession with self-image and cultivation of shallow friendships. A number of previous studies had linked narcissism with Facebook use, but the present study gives first evidence of direct relationship between number of Facebook friends and "socially disruptive" narcissistic personality disorder.
According to The Guardian, Carol Craig, social scientists and chief executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being, said young British were becoming more narcissistic and that Facebook provides an ideal platform for nurturing the disorder. She said: "The way that children are being educated is focusing more and more on the importance of self esteem – on how you are seen in the eyes of others. This method of teaching has been imported from the US and is 'all about me'. Facebook provides a platform for people to self-promote by changing profile pictures and showing how many hundreds of friends you have. I know of some who have more than 1,000."
Dr. Viv Vignoles, senior lecturer in social psychology at Sussex University agrees with Craig's assessment, saying studies give evidence that American college students are becoming more narcissist. He said, however: "Whether the same is true of non-college students or of young people in other countries, such as the UK, remains an open question, as far as I know. Without understanding the causes underlying the historical change in US college students, we do not know whether these causes are factors that are relatively specific to American culture, such as the political focus on increasing self-esteem in the late 80s and early 90s or whether they are factors that are more general, for example new technologies such as mobile phones and Facebook."
Study author Christopher Carpenter, assistant professor of communications at WIU, told Mashable: “People who have a heightened need to feel good about themselves will often turn to Facebook as a way to do so. Facebook gives those with narcissistic tendencies the opportunity to exploit the site to get the feedback they need and become the center of attention.”
Carpenter, said: "If Facebook is to be a place where people go to repair their damaged ego and seek social support, it is vitally important to discover the potentially negative communication one might find on Facebook and the kinds of people likely to engage in them. Ideally, people will engage in pro-social Facebooking rather than anti-social me-booking. In general, the 'dark side' of Facebook requires more research in order to better understand Facebook's socially beneficial and harmful aspects in order to enhance the former and curtail the latter."
My Fox Phoenix reports, however, that a study in 2010 by researchers from York University in Toronto, showed that some people may find Facebook very helpful. According to author Soraya Mehdizadeh: "If individuals with lower self-esteem are more prone to using Facebook, the question becomes, 'Can Facebook help raise self-esteem by allowing patients to talk to each other and help each other in a socially interactive environment?' I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing that people with low self-esteem use Facebook."
The present study was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.