UNF study asks: Does Facebook increase narcissism?


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Since Facebook made its grand entrance into cyberspace circa 2004, it has created a digital stage for self-promotion.

A decade later, with the advent of several dozen other social media sites, that stage is even larger. But much of it is occupied by a generation of young adults with a penchant for attention-getting behavior, from witty status updates to a steady stream of "selfies."

But is Facebook lending itself to an age of self-absorption? Is it causing more narcissism and less empathy? That's what University of North Florida psychology professor Tracy Alloway and her team of researchers wanted to find out.

STUDY: Is Facebook linked to selfishness?
LISTEN: WJCT's Rhema Thompson interview with Tracy Alloway

The UNF study's findings noted that while the importance given profile picture appearance and frequency was linked to narcissism, the general pattern suggests that Facebook is primarily a tool for staying connected rather than for self-promotion.

"This pattern suggests that Facebook, in facilitating great social connection, may encourage some aspects of empathy in contrast to previous reports," the study found. "The time spent on Facebook or the frequency of posting photos of themselves was not predictive of narcissism for either males or females. This pattern ... suggest(s) that these activities are not attention-seeking, but rather a means of communicating."