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Facebook Usage and Selfie-Taking Correlated to Narcissism

by   -  March 30th, 2015

Recent studies have shown that aspects of Facebook usage and increased selfie-taking actually indicates greater levels of narcissism. Greater levels of narcissism are typical of an individualistic personality and sometimes even relate to psychopathy, in part, due to overlapping symptoms such as a lack of empathy. Some researchers posit that narcissistic traits have become more common, overall, in western cultures in the last few decades.

What is Narcissism?

Narcissism is typified by pattern of grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. While everyone displays some traits of narcissism, and those can be quite healthy, when a person has an inordinately high level of narcissism and it becomes destructive, he or she may be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder.

According to Medscape, the signs and symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder include:

• A grandiose sense of self-importance

• A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love

• A belief that he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions

• A need for excessive admiration

• A sense of entitlement

• Interpersonally exploitive behavior

• A lack of empathy

• Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of him or her

• A demonstration of arrogant and haughty behaviors or attitudes

Narcissistic personality disorder is estimated to be present in 0.5% of the general United States population and in 2-16% of people who seek mental health help. That being said, some populations have much higher levels of narcissistic traits. In the military, about 20% of people have been found to have significant narcissistic traits or the disorder and 17% of first-year medical students have been found to have narcissistic personality disorder.

Facebook and Narcissism

Many researchers have studied the connection between personality traits and social media use. According to researchers Ashwini Nadkarnia, Stefan Hofmannb, people use Facebook for two reasons: 1) the need to belong; and 2) the need for self-presentation. And while cultural and demographic factors contribute to the need to belong, need for self-presentation is driven by narcissism, among other traits. Selection of Facebook profile picture has also been shown to be driven by narcissism. People with greater narcissistic traits tend to spend more time on Facebook, disclose more private information, and create more self-promotional posts.

While narcissists may present themselves on Facebook in a grandiose way and appear extremely successful, studies have shown that narcissism on Facebook is actually related to low self-esteem.

Selfies and Narcissism

It makes logical sense that those who take a large number of pictures of themselves (“selfies") and post them for the world to see would have greater feelings of self-admiration, self-importance, and other narcissistic tendencies. Recent research has now shown these thoughts on selfies and narcissism to be accurate.

According to The Dark Triad and Trait Self-Objectification as Predictors of Men’s Use and Self-Presentation Behaviors on Social Networking Sites, a study that surveyed 800 men from ages 18-40, greater narcissism was found in men who:

• Spent greater time on social networking sites

• Posted a greater number of selfies

• Edited the selfies before posting them on social networking sites

The number of selfies posted was also related to psychopathic personality traits.

The authors of the study note that follow-up research indicates that women follow these same patterns of personality traits. It’s important to note that while some men in the study did score higher in narcissistic and psychopathic personality traits, these levels were still within a normal range.

Narcissism and Its Relationship to Facebook and Selfies

No one is suggesting that people shouldn’t use Facebook or take pictures of themselves, of course. But how one presents oneself on social media may reveal more than just how one looked at last night’s party, it may also reveal parts of his or her personality.


Fox, Rooney, The Dark Triad and trait self-objectification as predictors of men’s use and self-presentation behaviors on social networking sites http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886914007259

Kapidzic, Narcissism as a predictor of motivations behind Facebook profile picture selection


Liu et al, Cognitive, personality, and social factors associated with adolescents' online personal information disclosure http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23849657

Medscape, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, accessed March 22, 2015 http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1519417-overview#showall

Mehdizadeh, Self-presentation 2.0: narcissism and self-esteem on Facebook


Nadkarnia, Hofmannb, Why Do People Use Facebook? http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886911005149

Szekeres, Tisljár, Narcissism in the world of Facebook. An evolutionary psychopathological interpretation



is a professional writer and author for and Bipolar Burble. She currently worked as a freelancer for Kingsblog.

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