Using Facebook is the online equivalent of staring at yourself in the mirror, according to a study.
Those who spent more time updating their profile on the social networking site were more likely to be narcissists, said researchers.
Facebook provides an ideal setting for narcissists to monitor their appearance and how many ‘friends’ they have, the study said, as it allows them to thrive on ‘shallow’ relationships while avoiding genuine warmth and empathy.
They also tend to use the site for promoting themselves to friends or people they would like to meet, the study concluded.
Researcher Soraya Mehdizadeh from York University in Canada asked 100 students, 50 male and 50 female, aged between 18 and 25 about their Facebook habits.
They all took psychology tests to measure their levels of narcissism, which the study defined as ‘a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration, and an exaggerated sense of self-importance’.
Those who scored higher on the narcissism test checked their Facebook pages more often each day than those who did not.
There was also a difference between men and women – men generally promoted themselves by written posts on their Facebook page while women tended to carefully select the pictures in their profile.
The findings, published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour And Social Networking, also suggested that those with low self-esteem also checked their Facebook pages more regularly than normal.
This may not be altogether surprising as it is widely thought, however contradictory it may appear, that narcissism is linked to a deep-rooted lack of self-esteem.
Miss Mehdizadeh admitted that not everyone would appreciate her findings.
She said: ‘I think people get sort of defensive about it – like, “I don’t use my Facebook for that reason” – because it’s a label that you don’t want to be slapped with.’
Facebook has more than 500million users worldwide and is the world’s biggest social networking website, but it has been involved in a number of controversies.
A study earlier this week showed that the grades of students who use Facebook while they study, even if it is only on in the background, are 20 per cent lower on average than those of non-users.
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