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Facebook clues that you might be a toxic narcissist

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Facebook and other social media spawn narcissism.

A recently published study highlights the dark side of Facebook for attracting narcissistic personality types. If you have too many friends on the popular social media site, you just might be a self-absorbed exhibitionist prone to narcissism.

Christopher Carpenter, in his study “Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and Anti-social Behavior,” suggests social media like Facebook offer a lot of control for individuals trying to self-promote and assuage wounded egos.

Carpenter says, Facebook “offers a gateway for hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication”, as does other social media, shown in the study.

He defines narcissism as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance.”

For the research, Carpenter used surveys that measured self-promoting Facebook behaviors among 292 individuals, using the narcissistic personality inventory (NPI), which includes the grandiose exhibitionism (GE) subscale. Seventy-five percent of respondents were college students. Carpenter used the entitlement/exploitativeness (EE) subscale to measure anti-social behavior.

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He explains the GE subscale includes vanity, superiority, self-absorption and exhibitionistic tendencies, while EE encompasses a sense of deserving respect and a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others.

Narcissistic behaviors

Carpenter found exactly what he had hypothesized – GE behaviors on Facebook correlated with self-promotion and exhibitionism and exploitative tendencies on social media correlated with anti-social behaviors. For instance, people who change their profile photo frequently and have an excessive number of 'friends'.

The research also found people on social media sites with more self-esteem have fewer antisocial behaviors.

“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”, Carpenter said.

More research is needed to understand that good and bad about Facebook and other social media sites that can foster aggressiveness and narcissism. The study is the first to show a direct link between Facebook and the most "toxic" narcissistic personality disorder. The finding is in line with a recent study from the American Psychological Association showing young adults are more materialistic than past generations and care little about the environment or politics.

Personality and Individual Differences
"Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and anti-social behavior"
Christopher Carpenter
March 2012

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