London: Facebook friends list and the frequency of changing your pictures on the social networking site could determine the degree to which you are a 'socially disruptive' narcissist, according to a new study.
People who scored highly on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire had more friends on Facebook, tagged themselves more often and updated their newsfeeds more regularly, Sky News reported.
The research comes amid growing evidence that young people are becoming increasingly narcissistic and obsessed with self-image and shallow friendships.
The latest study, also revealed that narcissists responded more aggressively to derogatory comments made about them on the social networking site’s public walls and changed their profile pictures more often.
Several previous studies have related narcissism with Facebook use, but this is some of the first evidence of a direct relationship between Facebook friends and the most ‘toxic’ elements of narcissistic personality disorder.
Researchers at Western Illinois University observed the Facebook habits of 294 students, aged between 18 and 65, and measured two ‘socially disruptive’ elements of narcissism - Grandiose Exhibitionism (GE) and Entitlement/Exploitativeness (EE).
GE includes “self-absorption, vanity, superiority, and exhibitionistic tendencies” and people who score high on this aspect of narcissism need to be continuously at the centre of attention.
They often say shocking things and inappropriately self-disclose as they cannot stand to be ignored or waste a chance of self-promotion.
The EE aspect includes “a sense of deserving respect and a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others.”
The research found that the higher someone scored on aspects of GE, the greater the number of friends they had on Facebook, with some gathering over 800.
Those scoring highly on EE and GG were also more likely to accept friend requests from strangers and look for social support, but less likely to provide it, according to the research.
Carol Craig, a social scientist and chief executive of the Centre for Confidence and Well-being, insisted that young people in Britain were becoming increasingly narcissistic and Facebook provided a platform for the disorder.
“The way that children are being educated is focusing more and more on the importance of self-esteem - on how you are seen in the eyes of others,” Craig said.
“This method of teaching has been imported from the US and is ‘all about me’.
“Facebook provides a platform for people to self-promote by changing profile pictures and showing how many hundreds of friends you have. I know of some who have more than 1,000,” Craig added.
The study has been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
First Published: Sunday, March 18, 2012, 14:26