Vulnerable Narcissists Drawn to Social Networks

New research examines the connection between narcissism and Internet use, especially among users who frequent social networking sites (SNSs).

Investigators examined different forms of narcissism to assess if there was an association to problematic use of SNSs, including unregulated use that may lead to negative outcomes.

Researchers note that social networking sites such as Facebook provide the ideal environment for some types of narcissists to promote themselves and seek the admiration of others on a grand scale.

In the study, found in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, investigators compared the mean levels of problematic use of SNSs among grandiose narcissists, vulnerable narcissists, and non-narcissists.

As discussed in the article “Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissists: Who Is at Higher Risk for Social Networking Addiction?”, Silvia Casale, Giulia Fioravanti, and Laura Rugai, from the University of Florence, Italy, discovered vulnerable narcissists, who tend to be insecure and have lower self-esteem, are more likely to feel safer in online versus face-to-face interactions.

This perception, in turn, may lead them to prefer social networking as a means to gain approval and admiration.

In contrast, grandiose narcissists, who tend toward arrogance and exhibitionism are likely to seek out admiration more openly, rather than through social media.

“Since online interactions tend to have an indirect effect on an individual’s social self-esteem, it is important to assess carefully for comorbid depression in those presenting with generalized problematic Internet use,” says Editor-in-Chief Brenda K. Wiederhold, Ph.D., MBA, BCB, BCN, Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, California.

In the study researchers reviewed results from a sample of 535 students who completed the 16-item Narcissistic Personality Inventory, the Hypersensitive Narcissism Scale, and the Generalized Problematic Internet Use Scale-2 (GPIUS2).

Vulnerable narcissists reported (a) significant higher levels on all GPIUS2 subscales and total scores than non-narcissists and (b) a stronger preference for online social interactions and higher overall levels of problematic use of SNSs than grandiose narcissists.

Conversely, no significant differences were found between grandiose narcissists and non-narcissists.

Researchers conclude that the study findings suggests that vulnerable narcissism may contribute more to problematic use of SNSs than grandiose narcissism.

Source: Mary Ann Liebert