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Swansea University study: Excessive posting of selfies is associated with increase in narcissism

12 Nov

Lisa Firestone Ph.D. wrote in the Psychology Today article, Is Social Media to Blame For the Rise In Narcissism?

So who’s to blame for this generational increase in narcissism?
Can we pin the tail on Mark Zuckerberg and the advent of Facebook? Over the last couple years, a plethora of research has been pouring in that makes connections between Facebook and narcissism. Studies are consistently finding that people who score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire tend to have more friends on Facebook, tag themselves more often in photos and update their statuses more frequently. According to Laura Buffadi, a postdoctoral researcher at the Universidad de Dueto in Bilbao, Spain, “Narcissists use Facebook and other social networking sites because they believe others are interested in what they’re doing, and they want others to know what they are doing.”
In general, social media websites encourage self-promotion, as users generate all of the content. W. Keith Campbell explains that people often utilize Facebook “to look important, look special and to gain attention and status and self-esteem.” The trouble with this aspect of social networking is that nearly everyone presents an unrealistic portrait of themselves. Just as people select the most attractive photos of themselves to use as profile pictures, they tend to populate their newsfeeds with the most attractive bits of news about themselves. Of course, this is not always the case, but the unrealistically sunny picture that so many social networkers paint can have a negative psychological effect on their friends or followers. Recent studies of undergraduates across the country have shown that “students who were more involved with Facebook were more likely to think other people’s lives were happier and better.” These heavy Facebook users were also more likely to negatively compare themselves to others and feel worse about themselves.
While Facebook is certainly a platform for narcissists, it is a mistake to assume that Facebook alone has caused this spike in narcissism. As researcher Shawn Bergman pointed out, “There is a significant amount of psychological research that shows that one’s personality is fairly well-established by age 7,” given that Facebook’s policy doesn’t allow users to register until age 13 “the personality traits of typical users are fairly well-ingrained by the time they get on a social network.”
The truth is the rise in narcissism among millennials may have less to do with our social networks online and more to do with our social networks at home. Throughout the last few decades, there has been an increase in parental coddling and the so-called “self-esteem” movement. Parents and teachers trying to instill a healthy sense of self-esteem in children by praising them lavishly often do more harm than good. In fact, studies show that children offered compliments for a skill they have not mastered or talents that they do not have are left feeling emptier and more insecure. Only when children are praised for real accomplishments are they able to build actual self-esteem. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/compassion-matters/201211/is-social-media-blame-the-rise-in-narcissism

The question most want to ask about narcissists is, are they bad people?

Elinor Greenberg, Ph.D. wrote in the Psychology Today article, Are Narcissists Bad People? Do they choose to hurt other people or are they unable to control themselves?

Most of the hurt that narcissists cause is the result of two basic sets of issues:
1. The need to retaliate to protect their self-esteem
Blame and retaliation: During any sort of disagreement, or even a fairly neutral situation, as soon as narcissists start to feel bad, they are likely to see whomever they are with as responsible for their discomfort. They quickly move from blaming the other person to angrily retaliating.
Justification: They feel justified because without whole object relations or object constancy, they now see the other person as the all-bad enemy. In addition, they have temporarily lost touch with any positive past history between them and the other person.
Fragile self-esteem: Their fragile self-esteem makes it extremely painful for them to become aware of their part in causing a fight. They do not even try to see how they might be at fault because that would pierce their narcissistic defenses and result in them feeling imperfect and deeply shamed.
Difficulty apologizing: After they calm down, they may realize that they over-reacted and regret it. Unfortunately, their underlying shaky self-esteem makes it very unlikely they will admit they were wrong and apologize. Instead, they are likely to make a reparative gesture, such as giving the person a present.
However, if the other person wants to talk about what happened, they are likely to become very defensive and feel attacked. Then the cycle of blame and retaliation and reparation may start all over again.
2. Self-centeredness and lack of emotional empathy
Narcissists often unintentionally do things that hurt other people because they are so self-centered and lack emotional empathy. For example, they may make fun of you in front of other people and just think they are being funny. Or you may tell them that you have a stomach virus and instead of sympathizing, they tell you that they had one much worse than yours.
How do we judge them?
Do we give them a free pass to hurt other people because they have a narcissistic personality disorder? I would not. At the very least, most well-intentioned people with NPD:
• Know that they are selfish.
• Know that other people are getting hurt by them.
• Know psychotherapy exists and most are choosing not to go for help to change.
• Have been told that what they are doing is hurtful and continue doing it anyway.
But: This subset of narcissists are not setting out to hurt other people on purpose…. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/understanding-narcissism/201810/are-narcissists-bad-people

Researchers are studying the intersection of personality disorders and social media.

Science Daily reported in Excessive posting of selfies is associated with increase in narcissism:

A new study has established that excessive use of social media, in particular the posting of images and selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism.
Published in The Open Psychology Journal, researchers from Swansea University and Milan University studied personality changes of 74 individuals aged 18 to 34 over a four-month period.
They also assessed the participants’ usage of social media — including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat — during that same period.
Narcissism is a personality characteristic that can involve grandiose exhibitionism, beliefs relating to entitlement, and exploiting others.
Those who used social media excessively, through visual postings, displayed an average 25% increase in such narcissistic traits over the four months of the study.
This increase took many of these participants above the clinical cut-off for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to the measurement scale used.
The study also found that those who primarily used social media for verbal postings, such as Twitter, did not show these effects.
However, for this group of people, their initial levels of narcissism predicted a growth in this form of social media usage over time. The more narcissistic they were to begin with, the more verbal postings they made later.
All but one of the people in the study used social media, and their average use was about three hours a day, excluding usage for work, but some reported using social media for as much as eight hours a day for non-work related purposes.
Facebook was used by 60% of the sample, 25% used Instagram, and 13% used Twitter and Snapchat each. Over two thirds of the participants primarily used social media for posting images…. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/11/181109112655.htm

Citation:

Excessive posting of selfies is associated with increase in narcissism
Date: November 9, 2018
Source: Swansea University
Summary:
A new study has established that excessive use of social media, in particular the posting of images and selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism by an average of 25 percent.

Journal Reference:
Phil Reed, Nazli I. Bircek, Lisa A. Osborne, Caterina Viganò, Roberto Truzoli. Visual Social Media Use Moderates the Relationship between Initial Problematic Internet Use and Later Narcissism. The Open Psychology Journal, 2018; 11 (1): 163 DOI: 10.2174/1874350101811010163

Here is the press release from Swansea University:

Excessive posting of photos on social media is associated with increase in narcissism
A new study has established that excessive use of social media, in particular the posting of images and selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism.
Researchers from Swansea University and Milan University studied personality changes of 74 individuals aged 18 to 34 over a four-month period. They also assessed the participants’ usage of social media – including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat – during that same period.
The work was published in The Open Psychology Journal.
Narcissism is a personality characteristic that can involve grandiose exhibitionism, beliefs relating to entitlement, and exploiting others.
Those who used social media excessively, through visual postings, displayed an average 25% increase in such narcissistic traits over the four months of the study.
This increase took many of these participants above the clinical cut-off for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, according to the measurement scale used.
Read the research paper
The study also found that those who primarily used social media for verbal postings, such as Twitter, did not show these effects. However, for this group of people, their initial levels of narcissism predicted a growth in this form of social media usage over time. The more narcissistic they were to begin with, the more verbal postings they made later.
All but one of the people in the study used social media, and their average use was about three hours a day, excluding usage for work, but some reported using social media for as much as eight hours a day for non-work related purposes.
Facebook was used by 60% of the sample, 25% used Instagram, and 13% used Twitter and Snapchat each. Over two thirds of the participants primarily used social media for posting images.
Professor Phil Reed from the Department of Psychology at Swansea University, who led the study, said:
“There have been suggestions of links between narcissism and the use of visual postings on social media, such as Facebook, but, until this study, it was not known if narcissists use this form of social media more, or whether using such platforms is associated with the subsequent growth in narcissism.
“The results of this study suggest that both occur, but show that posting selfies can increase narcissism.
“Taking our sample as representative of the population, which there is no reason to doubt, this means that about 20% of people may be at risk of developing such narcissistic traits associated with their excessive visual social media use.
“That the predominant usage of social media for the participants was visual, mainly through Facebook, suggests the growth of this personality problem could be seen increasingly more often, unless we recognise the dangers in this form of communication.”
Professor Roberto Truzoli from Milan University added:
“The use of visual social media may emphasise the perception of narcissistic individuals that they are the main focus of attention.
“The lack of immediate ‘direct’ social censure, may offer them the opportunity to inflict aspects of their narcissistic personality, present themselves in a grandiose manner, and realise fantasies of omnipotence.”
The study was conducted by Professor Phil Reed and Nazli Bircek from Swansea University, Dr. Lisa Osborne from the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, and Dr. Caterina Viganò and Professor Roberto Truzoli from Milan University.
Find out about research in the College of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea University

Posted by Ben Donovan
Friday 9 November 2018 09.45 GMT
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The healthy use of social media must be determined by each individual’

Pamela B. Rutledge Ph.D., M.B.A. wrote in the Psychology Today article, The Healthy Use of Social Media: Start with your goals. Is your social media use helping or hurting them?

Balance is key
While research does not support the fears about social media causing “addiction”, destroying empathy and social skills or turning a generation into narcissists, doing any one thing to the exclusion of others can create challenges. If you feel harrassed and overwhelmed by information overload or pressure from all that connectivity:
• Take the time to identify your larger goals, such as success at work or school, good relationships, or personal development.
• Evaluate your social media use and determine if it’s helping you meet those goals–keep a social media diary for a few days to learn what you use, when you use it and how it makes you feel
• Remember that you are the boss of your technology, not the other way around. Just because something rings or buzzes, doesn’t mean you have to answer
• Give youself permission to take a technology break from time to time and remind yourself what it feels like to be unplugged
• How you use your social media and mobile tools is unique to you and your goals. Don’t use others’ behavior to determine yours https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/positively-media/201310/the-healthy-use-social-media

While technology has advanced many aspects of civilization and made many tasks easier, its impact on social engagement and individual personality development may not be as salutatory.

“To know a species, look at its fears. To know yourself, look at your fears. Fear in itself is not important, but fear stands there and points you in the direction of things that are important. Don’t be afraid of your fears, they’re not there to scare you; they’re there to let you know that something is worth it.”
C. Joy Bell C.

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