By Samuel López De Victoria, Ph.D.
Did you know that if you spend time at social network websites like Facebook you
might be a narcissist?
Of course not everyone who uses Facebook is one. A recent study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin (Buffardi and Cambell, 2008) found how social networking web sites such as Facebook can attract narcissists. Here are some of the positive traits narcissists can exhibit:
- Initially likable.
- Perceived as leaders.
- Perceived as exciting.
- Perceived as entertaining.
- The capability to obtain sexual partners.
Narcissists can give the illusion of closeness, having empathy, and warmth yet they also are relational opportunists. They use their relationships to enhance themselves. In other words, they can be “show-offs.”
Narcissists are also known to be controllers, manipulators, aggressive, unfaithful, and given to playing mind-games.
The study reveals that social network websites can serve as a place to be shallow and not committed. Friendships can be superficial. These types of websites provide a forum where the narcissist can exercise high control of how he/she is perceived giving an edited image. Narcissists love to look at themselves, talk about themselves… any way they can be the center of the universe. One observation was that narcissists tend to post many pictures of themselves with others and at parties.
Other characteristics which raters evaluated were the amount of clothing worn versus modesty and physical presentation. They also considered if they were portrayed as fun, provocative, self-promoting, sexy, and self-centered. Narcissists tended to present themselves as important through the expression of their opinions. (sounds like Beckstead & Dunetz) Their ability to persuade others enhanced their perceived image.
In the end, the study appears to show that narcissism is associated with such things as self-promotion, sexiness, attractiveness, and provocative pictures of themselves (this includes action shots of them doing some sort of sport or athletic activity).
The study could imply that websites such as Facebook may contain high numbers of narcissists because of easy access to having a large social network. Social networking websites can provide narcissists with forums where they pursue their addiction to grandiosity while maintaining shallow relationships. These sites can be fertile grounds for the narcissist to work in. Those looking for love and romance on these social sites need to be aware of the scams of a narcissist in a relationship that could end up extremely painful over time.
Buffardi, L. E., & Campell, W. K. (2008). Narcissism and social networking web sites. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 1303+.