Christopher Carpenter published a study in the journal "Personality
and Individual Differences" directly linking "socially disruptive"
narcissism to Facebook behavior. Concretely, he showed that
narcissists are significantly more likely to accumulate a great
number of Facebook friends.
Befriending strangers, aggressive reactions
Carpenter conducted psychometric tests testing for two negative
character attributes of narcissism: Entitlement/Exploitiveness
which entails "a sense of deserving respect and a willingness to
manipulate and take advantage of others" and Grandiose
Exhibitionism (feeling the need to be at the center of attention).
The author then surveyed 294 study participants aged between 18 and
65 on their Facebook use.
Individuals scoring high on either of these factors more
frequently updated their newsfeeds with status updates, tagged
themselves, and changed their profile picture. They were also more
likely to accept friend requests from strangers and had a tendency
to get easily offended by derogatory comments of others.
Correlation, not necessarily causation
Carpenter commented that "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. Ideally, people will engage in pro-social
Facebooking rather than anti-social Facebooking."
The author nevertheless cautions to interpret the link between
narcissism and Facebook behavior in a causal way. Whether Facebook
creates narcissism or whether narcissism simply finds a platform on
Facebook is not clear. The effects measured might also have
something to do with the sample chosen.
American students increasingly narcissistic
Dr. Viv Vignoles (social psychology expert at Sussex University)
commented that past research has shown "clear evidence" that
American college students grow increasingly narcissistic. "Whether
the same is true of non-college students or of young people in
other countries, such as the UK, remains an open question, as far
as I know."
Another U.S. study recently indicated that narcissism might
not be a particularly healthy character trait either. "Even though
narcissists have grandiose self-perceptions, they also have fragile
views of themselves, and often resort to defensive strategies like
aggression when their sense of superiority is threatened." This may
lead to increased blood pressure which is known to be a risk factor
for cardiovascular diseases, e.g. heart attacks.