Despite the immense popularity of Facebook, the social network site may not be a great setting for everyone. A new research report takes a critical look at the popular social networking service.
In the study, Christopher Carpenter, Ph.D., an assistant professor of communication at Western Illinois University, posits that Facebook has a dark side.
Narcissism is defined in this study as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance,” Carpenter said. He believes Facebook provides an ideal forum for the average narcissist.
Facebook “offers a gateway for hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication.” Social networking in general allows the user a great deal of control over how he or she is presented to and perceived by peers and other users, he added.
Carpenter’s research methods class emailed people they knew and asked them to complete a survey. Approximately 75 percent of respondents were college students, he said.
The narcissistic personality inventory (NPI) survey sample included 292 individuals, which measured self-promoting Facebook behaviors, such as posting status updates, photos of oneself and updating profile information; and several anti-social behaviors, including seeking social support more than providing it, getting angry when others do not comment on status updates and retaliating against negative comments.
Carpenter predicted that a high score on the part of the survey that assessed grandiose exhibitionism (GE) would predict the self-promoting behaviors. Further, a section of the survey termed entitlement/exploitativeness (EE) was hypothesized to predict the anti-social behaviors.
GE includes vanity, superiority, self-absorption and exhibitionistic tendencies. EE includes a sense of deserving respect and a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others, Carpenter explained.
Study results confirmed Carpenter’s hypothesis that grandiose exhibitionism is associated with self-promotion and that entitlement/exploitativeness correlates with anti-social behaviors on Facebook.
Self-esteem was unrelated to self-promotion behaviors and it was negatively associated with some anti-social behaviors (i.e. self-esteem was related to less of these anti-social behaviors).
Carpenter believes individuals, especially those in a frail emotional stage, should be aware that all that is presented on Facebook, may not represent total reality.
“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 me-booking.
“In general, the ‘dark side’ of Facebook requires more research in order to better understand Facebook’s socially beneficial and harmful aspects in order to enhance the former and curtail the latter,” added Carpenter.
His paper, titled “Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and Anti-social Behavior,” is published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.
Source: Western Illinois University