Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

New social media study investigates relationships among Facebook use, narcissism and empathy

Date:
July 3, 2014
Source:
University of North Florida
Summary:
A new study investigated the relationship among adult Facebook users and found that some Facebook features are linked to selfishness and some Facebook activities may encourage empathy.

The rise of social networking sites has led to changes in the nature of our social relationships, as well as how we present and perceive ourselves. Although social media, like Facebook, allow us to connect, are we becoming more self-centered and less empathic towards other human beings?

A new study by Dr. Tracy Alloway, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Florida, investigated the relationship among adult Facebook users, between ages 18 and 50, and found that some Facebook features are linked to selfishness and some Facebook activities may encourage empathy.

Alloway and her research team conducted a study, recently published in Social Networking, of more than 400 individuals and asked them a range of questions about their Facebook behaviors, including how many hours per day they spent on Facebook, and the number of times they updated their status. They also asked participants to rate their profile picture: were they physically attractive, cool, glamorous and fashionable.

Participants in the study, the bulk single, used Facebook an average of two hours per day and had approximately 500 friends for both males and females. The majority -- 89.5 percent -- reported they were included in their profile photo.

To assess how narcissistic they were, participants were given a standard narcissism questionnaire, where they had to choose between statements that best described them. For example, they had to decide between "I like to be the center of attention" or "I prefer to blend in with the crowd."

The study revealed only one Facebook behavior accurately predicted narcissism levels: user profile picture ratings. For males, only their profile picture ratings were a predictor of narcissism. For the females, both their profile picture ratings and their status update frequency predicted their narcissism.

Narcissistic individuals have an exaggerated view of their attractiveness and want to share it with the world. The profile picture is the most tangible aspect of a user's online self-presentation, making it a touchstone for narcissists seeking to draw attention to themselves.

"Every narcissist needs a reflecting pool. Just as Narcissus gazed into the pool to admire his beauty, social networking sites, like Facebook, have become our modern-day pool," said Alloway.

The study also showed that there were differences between the sexes. While men were more narcissistic according to the test, narcissistic women were more likely to rate their profile pictures as more physically attractive, glamorous and cool. Females also changed their profile picture more than the males, updating their photo once every two months, compared to once every three months for males. This may mean that narcissistic women are more likely to use Facebook as a reflecting pool than narcissistic males.

However, Alloway noted that many other Facebook activities weren't linked to narcissism. "The number of friends they had, even how often they posted photos of themselves weren't related to narcissistic tendencies," she said. "This pattern suggests that while Facebook may be a tool for narcissists, it's more than just a reflecting pool."

Additionally, the findings indicated that some Facebook activities, such as chatting, were linked to aspects of empathic concern, such as higher levels of Perspective Taking -- the ability to place oneself in another's situation -- in males, while females scored lower. The photo feature in Facebook was also linked to the better ability to place themselves, both males and females, in fictional situations. For females only, viewing videos was associated with the extent to which they could identify with someone's distress.

The study's conclusion found that some Facebook activities, such as chatting, encourage some aspects of empathy. Although the photo feature was linked to narcissism, the overall pattern of findings suggests that social media is primarily a tool for staying connected than for self-promotion.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of North Florida. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Tracy Alloway, Rachel Runac, Mueez Qureshi, George Kemp. Is Facebook Linked to Selfishness? Investigating the Relationships among Social Media Use, Empathy, and Narcissism. Social Networking, 2014; 03 (03): 150 DOI: 10.4236/sn.2014.33020

Cite This Page:

University of North Florida. "New social media study investigates relationships among Facebook use, narcissism and empathy." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 3 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140703102510.htm>.
University of North Florida. (2014, July 3). New social media study investigates relationships among Facebook use, narcissism and empathy. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140703102510.htm
University of North Florida. "New social media study investigates relationships among Facebook use, narcissism and empathy." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140703102510.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins