Social networking websites keep people connected with friends, co-workers and acquaintances. But new research suggests that online profiles can also feed narcissistic tendencies and highlights a disconnect between one's real-world personality and curated online identity.
The blog All Facebook reports the findings from a study called "Self-Presentation 2.0: Narcissism and Self-Esteem on Facebook," which investigated 100 Facebook users' profiles and analyzed the subjects' real-world personality traits.
Lead by York University psychologist Soraya Mehdizadeh, researchers randomly selected 50 male and 50 female students to participate. All Facebook describes the methodology:
[A]fter having the students answer questions about their demographics, facebook activity, self-esteem, and narcissism [...] Mehdizadeh looked at the "About Me" section, the profile photo, the first 20 pictures in the "View Photos of Me" section, the notes, and the status updates of each student, rating each page based on extent it self-promotes the user.
The results showed that students with comparatively lower self-esteem scores and higher narcissism scores not only spent spent more time on Facebook, but also tended to "self-promote" more than the students with higher self-esteem scores and lower narcissism scores. Facebook "self promotion" is described by ShockMD.com as "any descriptive or visual information that appeared to attempt to persuade others about one's own positive qualities. For instance posting 'My Celebrity Look-alikes'. Use of picture enhancement etc."
Therefore, the study concludes, a person's Facebook profile does not necessarily provide an accurate representation of the person creating the page. A user who constantly updates his or her status, obsessively uploads new photos and excessively posts or comments on others' walls, for instance, may be exhibiting narcissistic tendencies and battling issues of low self-esteem--or as All Facebook puts it, "those "cool" Facebook friends you have who keep spamming your news feed with constant information about themselves and how awesome they are may not be too awesome after all."
To read a full version of the study, "Narcissism and Self-Esteem on Facebook," click here.