A new study conducted by University of Michigan researchers Elliot Panek, Yioryos Nardis and Sara Konrath found that social media reflects and amplifies the culture’s growing levels of narcissism.
In the words of the researchers, “Facebook is a mirror and Twitter is a megaphone.”
The team examined whether narcissism was correlated with the amount of daily Facebook and Twitter posting and the amount of time spent on each social media site. Their conclusion, in short? Yes.
Part One of the study involved recruiting 486 college undergraduates – three-quarters female, with a median age of 19 – and asking participants questions about their social media use. The researchers also gave each student a personality assessment measuring different aspects of narcissism, including exhibitionism, exploitativeness, superiority, authority and self-sufficiency.
In Part Two, the researchers asked 93 adults, mostly white females with an average age of 35, to complete an online survey.
Interestingly, the study indicated that narcissistic college students and their adult counterparts use social media in different ways “to boost their egos and control others’ perceptions of them.”
Young adult college students who posted more often on Twitter scored higher in narcissistic traits. In contrast, middle-aged adult narcissists posted frequent Facebook status updates as a way to garner approval.
We’ve reported on similar findings before – for example, according to Rutgers researchers, 80% of Twitter users are “meformers,” posting tweets that focus on their day to day life.
There was no way to determine cause, i.e. whether social media causes narcissism, or fuels already-existent narcissism. But that’s an interesting thread to pull, and perhaps we’ll have an answer to that question at some point.
Do you think frequent social media use plays into narcissism, either in yourself or others?
(Image via Shutterstock)