Spend ten minutes on Facebook and this seems obvious, but now a study finds that the two groups who spend the most time on Facebook are raging narcissists and people who hate themselves.
According to The Globe and Mail, researcher Soraya Mehdizadeh gave Canadian college students between the ages of 18 and 25 tests for narcissism and self-esteem, and surveyed their Facebook use — as it turned out, those who scored high in narcissism or low in self-regard tended to spend more time on the site. Mehdizadeh points out that her study raises questions — for instance, "Is it that narcissists are more likely to use Facebook, or people who use Facebook are more likely to become narcissists?" I could imagine it either way — maybe people who are full of themselves are the ones who spend hours leaving their mark on every wall in town, or maybe constantly grooming a profile and managing an ever-growing list of virtual friendships artificially puffs up one's ego. We could ask a similar question about self-esteem: does Facebook attract people who already feel bad about themselves (and, as Mehdizadeh surmises, use the site as a "social lubricant" to make up for their insecurities), or does subjecting themselves to a constant stream of quasi-personal interactions actually make people feel like shit?
Of course, Mehdizadeh's sample size was just a hundred people, so this could all be bullshit. Maybe she just found the vainest and most insecure Canadian college students, and the rest of frequent Facebook users are happy, well-adjusted people with fulfilling real-world lives. Let's not take any chances, though — if you want to determine whether the person you're Facebook-stalking is a narcissist, science can help you with that too. A 2008 study found "that the number of Facebook friends and wallposts that individuals have on their profile pages correlates with narcissism." Also, "narcissists are [...] more likely to choose glamorous, self-promoting pictures for their main profile photos, she said, while others are more likely to use snapshots." So basically if someone has a lot of friends and is hot, he or she is probably an asshole. Which just confirms what people already know. According to Physorg.com:
Untrained observers were able to detect narcissism, too. The researchers found that the observers used three characteristics – quantity of social interaction, attractiveness of the individual and the degree of self promotion in the main photo – to form an impression of the individual's personality. "People aren't perfect in their assessments," [lead study author] Buffardi said, "but our results show they're somewhat accurate in their judgments."
So if these studies are to be believed, Facebook is basically composed of egotistical, sexy jerks, and the sad, lonely people who judge them. The future is sure looking awesome.
Facebook A Big Hit With Narcissists: Study [Globe and Mail]
Related: Study: Facebook Profiles Can Be Used To Detect Narcissism [PhysOrg.com]