Narcissistic haven found on Facebook

Narcissistic haven found on Facebook

By William Smith

New research suggests that Facebook is a haven for people who are narcissistic.  The research study is called ‘Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and anti-social behaviour’ and suggests that Facebook ‘offers a gateway for hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication.’

The research was conducted by Christopher Carpenter, an assistant professor of communication at Western Illinois University and can be found in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

In the study narcissism is defined as ‘a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance’.

Carpenter says that for this study, social networking in general allows the user a great deal of control over how he or she is presented to and perceived by peers and other users.

The study surveyed 292 participants using a narcissistic personality inventory (NPI).  This inventory measured self-promoting behaviours by those who use Facebook.  Such behaviours include posting status updates, pictures of oneself and updating profile details.  Anti-social behaviours include searching for social support more than giving it, becoming cross when others fail to comment on status updates and retaliation for negative comments.  About 75% of the participants were college students.

Carpenter considered whether the grandiose exhibitionism (GE) subscale of the NPI would predict whether or not this would lead to self-promoting behaviours.  He also considered whether entitlement/exploitativeness (EE) would predict anti-social behaviour.

GE subscale was described as including vanity, self-absorption, superiority and exhibitionistic tendencies.  EE was described as including a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others, and a sense of deserving respect.

The study found that GE corresponded to self-promotion and that EE corresponded to anti-social behaviours on Facebook.  It also found that self-esteem had no connection to self-promotion behaviours and was negatively associated with some anti-social behaviour.  This means that self-esteem was connected to less of these anti-social behaviours.

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,’ Carpenter concluded.

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