Beware Facebook's dark side: narcissism

| 04 Apr 2012 | 01:18

MACOMB, Ill. — A recent study shows that some vigorous Facebook users harbor qualities of grandiose exhibitionism, self-promotion, and a sense of entitlement. Does that sound like you? The study “Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and Anti-social Behavior” by Christopher Carpenter, a 30-year old assistant professor of communication at Western Illinois University, was published his study, was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences in March. His study defined narcissism as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance." For the average narcissist, Facebook “offers a gateway for hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication," Carpenter said. More importantly for this study, he said, 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 narcissistic personality inventory (NPI) survey sample, which included 292 people, measured self-promoting Facebook behaviors, such as posting status updates, photos of oneself and updating profile information; and several anti-social behaviors, including seeking social support more than providing it, getting angry when others do not comment on status updates, and retaliating against negative comments. Carpenter’s research methods class at Western Illinois emailed people they knew and asked them to complete the survey. Approximately 75 percent of respondents were college students, he said. Carpenter hypothesized that the grandiose exhibitionism subscale of the NPI would predict the self-promoting behaviors. This category includes vanity, superiority, self-absorption, and exhibitionistic tendencies. The entitlement/exploitativeness subscale was hypothesized to predict the anti-social behaviors. This category includes a sense of deserving respect and a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others, Carpenter explained. Results showed grandiose exhibitionism correlated with self-promotion, and entitlement/exploitativeness correlated with anti-social behaviors on Facebook. Self-esteem was unrelated to self-promotion behaviors and related to fewer of these anti-social 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," Carpenter said. "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, added Carpenter. Source: Western Illinois University