Can Facebook make you feel better about yourself?
Dave Duncan, CTV.ca News
Published Wednesday, September 8, 2010 12:02PM EDT
A recent study of Canadian university students suggests the heaviest users of Facebook are narcissists and people with low self-esteem.
The study of 100 students ranked participants based on levels of narcissism and self-esteem. It revealed that those who ranked high for narcissism almost universally spent more time logging into and updating their Facebook profile.
The study, which defines narcissism as "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance," seems common sense enough as Facebook is seemingly the perfect tool for bragging and showing off.
How students deemed to have low self-esteem used Facebook was more surprising.
According to the study published last month in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, respondents identified as having low self-esteem were also heavy users of Facebook.
According to the study, people with insecurities manage their image by hiding physical features or personality traits they don't like and putting forward only what they see as the best of themselves.
The study doesn't go so far as to say that all heavy users of Facebook are narcissists or people with very low self-esteem, but that both those with a strong and weak sense of self use Facebook to assert their best view of themselves.
Narcissism and Self-Esteem on Facebook was written by York University undergraduate student Soraya Mehdizadeh. Speaking to CTV.ca, she summarized how everyone participates in social media, saying "you very carefully construct the image of yourself that you want people to see."
Mehdizadeh went on to say "that's why so many people get paranoid if their boss sees them on Facebook. They're worried that they don't project the same image there that they project in their workplace."
Rather than focusing on those with high self-esteem, Mehdizadeh prefers to draw attention to how those with insecurities can use social media to project themselves in a way that increases their self-esteem.
"If people with lower self-esteem are more likely to use Facebook, it may have an indirect effect on their self esteem," she said, adding that social media presents a unique opportunity for those with insecurity issues to effectively re-invent themselves.