PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Social media use may be directly linked to narcissism, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Michigan.
The first part of the study looked at the social media habits of 468 undergraduates. Three-quarters of the students were white females, and the median age was 19. The participants answered questions about their social media use and were also given a personality test designed to recognize narcissistic traits like exhibitionism and superiority.
In the second part of the study, the researchers asked 93 adults around age 35 – again, mostly white females – to complete an online survey.
What the results revealed is interesting. The study’s researchers say that the most narcissistic young adults tended to post more frequently to Twitter, while middle-aged adults posted on Facebook more often.
In other words, “Facebook is a mirror, and Twitter is a megaphone,” says a follow-up article on the University of Michigan’s website.
According to Elliot Panek, who received a PhD in communications from Michigan and will soon head to Drexel, young people may overestimate the importance of their own opinions and try to expand their social circle, accounting for the popularity of Twitter.
Meanwhile, older adults “have already formed their social selves” and may use Facebook to gain approval within their established social circle.
While the researchers were unable to determine whether narcissism leads to more frequent use of social media or whether social media engenders narcissism, this is one of the first studies to compare the relationship between social media use and narcissism.