Number of Facebook friends linked to narcissism, says study

4:34 AM, Mar 21, 2012   |    comments
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(CBS News) A recent study finds a new link between one's abundance of Facebook friends and narcissism.  

The study titled "Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and anti-social behavior" by Christopher J. Carpenter was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. The purpose of the research was to identify "socially disruptive" personality types on Facebook.

Carpenter surveyed 294 people, ages 18 to 65, who were given a series of questionnaires regarding their use of Facebook.

They were also asked questions to assess Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI). More specifically, two NPI subscales - Grandiose Exhibitionism (GE) and Entitlement/Exploitativeness (EE), as defined by a 2010 study called "What Does the Narcissistic Personality Inventory Really Measure?" published in the journal Assessment.

The study theorizes that people with high levels of GE tend to have a high friend count on Facebook because their drive for attention motivates them to seek a wider audience.

The same group is more likely to accept friend requests from strangers, post frequent status updates, upload photos and change their profile picture as a means to gain attention. Meanwhile, those with high levels of EE were predicted to feel entitled to attention without effort or reciprocity.

A sample of questions asked in the study:

"How often do you post status updates to Facebook?"
"How often do you update your profile information on Facebook?"
"How often do you accept a friend request from a total stranger on Facebook (assuming they do not appear to be a fake profile)?"  

For the most part, the research supported the hypothesis that people with more Facebook friends tended to have narcissists tendencies.

One caveat of the study is that it's not fully representative. Nearly three fourths of the participants were college students.

The March 2012 issue of Personality and Individual Differences can be ordered online.

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