A friend I’ve been trying to convince to join Facebook forwarded me a LiveScience story this afternoon about a study that found that a person’s narcissism can be predicted by how he or she uses the popular social networking site.
In the study, which appears in the October issue of Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 129 Facebook users participated in a survey designed to pick up narcissistic personality traits. Another group of college kids then examined the 129 users’ Facebook pages for evidence of such narcissism.
The findings, in a nutshell: The more info that users (or their friends) posted about themselves, the more narcissistic they were deemed to be. They were also the ones most likely to have sexier and more self-promoting main profile photos.
I use Facebook regularly, so the study begged an obvious question: Am I a narcissist?
So I read the study. It was fun to see Facebook behavior described in more clinical terms. To wit: “A measure of self-promoting quotes was created by taking the mean of the coders’ judgments of quote arrogance and self-promotion.” And: “A measure of main photo sexiness was created by taking the mean of the coders’ judgments of how sexy and modest (reversed) and clothed (reversed) the individual in the main photo appeared to be.”
When I compared myself to the averages for four criteria, I had mixed results. I have almost twice as many friends (319) as the average user (171) in the survey; am a member of about a third as many groups as the average (12 vs. 35), and have no text in the “About Me” section (the average was 5 lines). The average number of wall posts was 480 in the survey. I can’t figure out how to count mine, but I’m pretty sure it’s not that high.
It wasn’t just the quantity of social interaction that correlated with narcissism, though. There was also the issue of main photo attractiveness (ahem) and self-promotion. To really answer the question, I’d need to have an objective person look at my profile. I emailed the authors, W. Keith Campbell and Laura Buffardi, an associate professor of psychology and a graduate student, respectively, at the University of Georgia, and asked them if they would mind looking at my Facebook page and give me a “diagnosis.” No dice.
“We are trying to be very cautious with these results and I don't think it would be appropriate to claim we have developed a valid narcissism diagnostic tool that would work for individual assessments,” Campbell replied politely.
That got me to wondering: Does a guy who wants to know what a study says about him, then decides to blog about it, really need to go that far to look for evidence of narcissism? But enough about me; what about me?