Washington - It may be time to redefine what it means to be narcissistic in a social media world, suggests a new research.
The study conducted by associate professor Bruce McKinney at the University of North Carolina Wilmington revealed that Facebook users are not as narcissistic as once thought.
While previous studies such as Laura Buffardi and W. Keith Campbellâs 2008 paper in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin showed a correlation between Facebook and narcissism,
McKinneyâs new study found no relationship between Facebook usage and narcissistic traits.
The study was co-authored by Lynne Kelly and Robert L. Duran of The University of Hartford.
The researchers focused on whether social networking sites like Facebook were promoting narcissism in college-aged users in a world where being constantly hunched over computers and smart phones is the norm.
McKinney, Kelly and Duran surveyed 233 college students to deduce how much time participants were spending on social media sites and whether their usage showed characteristics of
narcissism or openness. Their findings showed that instead of using social media to inflate their ego, Facebook users log on to the site to share their lives with those in their friend circle
similar to how they would share photos and stories with friends in person.
âWe found that Facebook is ubiquitous,â said McKinney and suggested, âPerhaps it is time to redefine narcissism and narcissistic traits so it includes social media usage.â
Although previous studies like the one conducted by Buffardi and Campbell showed Facebook and narcissism are linked, McKinney noted that, with the rise in popularity of social networking
sites, the standard for narcissistic behaviour might be evolving.
He said considering the recent mainstreaming of social media usage, the 2008 report may be dated in documenting the behaviour of those using social networking sites to post and share
information. He noted that social media is now employed by not only individuals, but by businesses and private institutions and that this expansion paired with more pervasive use of social
media may be changing the standards and purpose of the sites in the last five years.
âWe used to have phone booths for a reason -- for privacy. But with Facebook and social networking came sharing with larger groups of friends, which has become customary. Weâve become
an individualistic culture,â McKinney explained.
âItâs acceptable to say âLook at me!â Now, itâs the social norm,â he said.
McKinneyâs study focused on the narcissistic traits exhibited by social media users rather than The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) definition of Narcissistic
Personality Disorder. He said he plans to expand his research on the topic in the future.
Despite Facebookâs shaky start in the public sector, McKinney said, âitâs not going anywhere. Facebook has become universal and a cultural norm in our new, individualistic society.â
The study was recently published in the newest volume of Communication Research Reports.