We need some measurement of what people are actually doing during their social-networking time for [the narcissism charge] to be credible. Are they really spending untold hours massaging their profiles and uploading new and more flattering pictures? Most of us, I suspect, spend way more time connecting with friends, family, colleagues and (yes) strangers—interacting, in other words—than designing an online persona.
A new study seems to give us just that sort of information—maybe. Read the article for yourself; it’s not altogether clear precisely what they found. In one paragraph they suggest that people who spend more time updating their profiles tend to be narcissistic (which seems like a ‘duh’). But they later say that “Those who scored higher on the narcissism test checked their Facebook pages more often each day than those who did not.” Do they mean checking one’s profiles for any reason (e.g. to check in with friends), or is that paragraph linked to the previous one about checking in to tweak one’s profile?
I also note that the study included only 100 people and was of 18-25 year olds, which I’ve already argued may be more narcissistic than the general population—developmentally so.
Then there’s the whole correlation/causation thing. Is Facebook making people narcissistic, or is it merely enabling narcissists to indulge their narcissism?
Still, linking to this study (which seems to contradict an argument I’ve made, though it’s hard to tell) seems like the intellectually honest thing to do.
More research is needed though.