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Study Suggests Social Media Attracts People Who Need An Ego Boost
June 12, 2013
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A woman checks her lipstick on a beach, circa 1960 (Photo: Getty)

Apparently, people who need to boost their ego are drawn to social media sites like Facebook and Twitter - according to a new study from the University of Michigan.

The study examined people for evidence of narcissistic personality traits and checked the results against their behaviour on social media.

It found that people who exhibit narcissistic tendencies spend more time on Twitter and Facebook posting their own messages and reading the posts and comments of others.

The study also found an interesting difference between how narcissistic college students use social media as compared to older adults.

It seems the students tend to prefer Twitter, while older adults spend more time on Facebook.


"Among young adult college students, we found that those who scored higher in certain types of narcissism posted more often on Twitter," said Elliot Panek, one of three researchers who worked on the study.

"But among middle-aged adults from the general population, narcissists posted more frequent status updates on Facebook."

According to Panek, college students with narcissistic personalities gravitate towards Twitter because it serves as a kind of megaphone for their thoughts.

"Young people may overevaluate the importance of their own opinions," Panek said. "Through Twitter, they're trying to broaden their social circles and broadcast their views about a wide range of topics and issues."

For adults, meanwhile, Panek says Facebook serves as a "mirror."

"It's about curating your own image, how you are seen, and also checking on how others respond to this image," he said. "Middle-aged adults usually have already formed their social selves, and they use social media to gain approval from those who are already in their social circles."

The sample size for the study was fairly small: for the student section of the study, researchers spoke to 486 undergraduates, three-quarters of whom were female.

As for the adult subjects, only 93 people - "mostly white females," according to Science Daily - participated. The average age of adult participants was 35.

At this point, the researchers haven't figured out why social media and narcissism seem to be connected. It's a bit like the chicken and the egg.

Does narcissism lead to more social media use, or does using social media make you narcissistic?

Their study is one of the first to look at narcissism and social media use among different age groups.

Via Science Daily


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