Researchers at Western Illinois University conducted a study of 294 Facebook users between 18 and 65 years of age and found a link between narcissistic personality traits and the number of Facebook friends a person had.
The study found that the more friends one has on Facebook, the higher they score on personality inventory tests that measured two prime elements of narcissism: Entitlement/Exploitiveness (EE) and Grandiose Exhibitionism (GE) which includes “self absorption, vanity, superiority, and exhibitionist tendencies.” People with high GE scores need to constantly be at the center of attention. EE characteristics include “ a sense of deserving respect and a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others.” The researchers found those study participants scoring high on the GE measure had a greater number of Facebook friends.
Study participants that score high on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory also more frequently updated their newsfeeds with status updates, tagged themselves, and changed their profile picture. Previous studies have reported a link between narcissistic tendencies and Facebook use, but this study, published in the Journal Personality and Individual Differences, provides the first direct evidence showing a connection between the most important elements of narcissistic personality disorder.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine defines narcissistic personality disorder as:” a condition in which people have an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with themselves.”
The study at Western Illinois University also found that people scoring high on the GE and EE measures for narcissism were more likely to accept friend requests from others, and to be offended by derogatory comments. Christopher Carpenter, who ran the study, said more research is needed to understand the negative and positive aspects of Facebook so that the socially beneficial aspects can be boosted and its ‘dark side’ limited.
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 Facebooking. “