New European research has found that too much social media use, in particular posting selfies and other photos, could increase a person’s level of narcissism.
Carried out by researchers at Swansea University, UK, and Milan University, Italy, the small-scale study looked at 74 participants aged 18 to 34 to see how their personalities changed over a four-month period.
During this time the researchers also measured participants’ use of social media including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.
The findings, publishing in the Open Psychology Journal, showed that all but one of the participants used social media.
Excluding time spent on the social media platforms for work, participants spent an average of three hours a day on the sites, although some reported using social media for as much as eight hours a day.
Over two thirds of the participants reported using social media primarily for posting images.
Moreover, the researchers also found that those who used social media excessively, posting a high number of photos, showed an average 25% increase in narcissistic traits over the four months of the study.
The team also found that the more narcissistic participants were to begin with, the more verbal postings they made later.
Narcissism is a personality characteristic that can involve grandiose exhibitionism, a need for excessive attention and admiration, beliefs relating to entitlement, and a lack of empathy for others.
In fact, the increase found in the study took many of the participants above the clinical cut-off for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to the measurement scale used at the start and end of the study.
However, those who mainly used the platforms for verbal postings, for example Twitter, did not show these effects.
“There have been suggestions of links between narcissism and the use of visual postings on social media, such as Facebook, but, until this study, it was not known if narcissists use this form of social media more, or whether using such platforms is associated with the subsequent growth in narcissism,” commented lead author Professor Phil Reed.
“The results of this study suggest that both occur, but show that posting selfies can increase narcissism.”
“Taking our sample as representative of the population, which there is no reason to doubt, this means that about 20% of people may be at risk of developing such narcissistic traits associated with their excessive visual social media use.”
“That the predominant usage of social media for the participants was visual, mainly through Facebook, suggests the growth of this personality problem could be seen increasingly more often, unless we recognise the dangers in this form of communication,” added Prof Reed. – AFP Relaxnews