Narcissism and social media–a match made in heaven?

Since the earlier days of social media, researchers have looked at the relationship between narcissism and social media use.  Narcissism is a personality type “marked by a grandiose sense of self-importance, low communion with others, and feelings of entitlement.”  People with extreme forms of narcissism may be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) which is “characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiose behaviors, excessive need for admiration, and empathy deficits.”

Interest in this topic has increased since a significant portion of the use of social media seems to fit the needs of narcissists, plus some individuals prominent in politics, sports, technology, and other areas seem to exhibit strong narcissistic tendencies.

McCain and Campbell (2018) have done a meta-analytic review of over 60 studies (since 2008) that have been published in this area.  Their findings “suggest that grandiose narcissism is positively related to” the amount of time spent using social media, the frequency of new posts and tweets, the number of friends and followers, and the frequency of posting pictures of themselves (selfies).

In other words, people exhibiting grandiose narcissism spend more time, post or tweet more often, have larger numbers of friends and followers, and more frequently post their own pictures on social media.

Singh, Farley, and Donahue (2018) looked especially at the relationship between narcissism and the frequency of sending/posting selfies.  They found–like McCain and Campbell–that grandiose narcissism was most consistently associated with various social media behaviors, including “frequency of selfie posting, perceived attractiveness of selfies, tags/comment/like behaviors”, etc.

Again, grandiose narcissists posted/tweeted their own pictures more frequently “through a motivation for others to show interest and admiration.”

Narcissism and social media use is a burgeoning area for study with potentially broad implications globally for our society and the ways that we collectively make choices/decisions–political, social, economic, and more.

(Kevin Engel, November 26, 2018)

For more information about psychological phenomena, search the Science Primary Literature Database and the Headline Science Database.

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