A new study by researchers in two European universities concludes that excessive use of social media, particularly the posting of selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism.
To reach their conclusions, researchers from the United Kingdom’s Swansea University and Italy’s Milan University studied personality changes in 74 individuals, ages 18-34, over a four-month period. They also assessed the participants’ usage of social media, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat for the same period.
Study results was published in The Open Psychology Journal, and also posted on EurekAlert, the online publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Narcissism is a personality characteristic that can involve grandiose exhibitionism, beliefs relating to entitlement, and exploiting others.
Participants who used social media excessively, through visual postings, displayed an average 25 percent increase in such narcissistic traits over the four months of the study, taking them above the clinical cut-off for Narcissistic Personality Disorder, researchers said. Those who primarily used social media for verbal postings, however, did not show these effects.
Over two thirds of the participants primarily used social media to post images, the study showed.
“Taking our sample as representative of the population, which there is no reason to doubt, this means that about 20 percent of people may be at risk of developing such narcissistic traits associated with their excessive visual social media use,” said study leader Professor Phil Reed, of Swansea University’s Department or Psychology.