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Study links social media to narcissistic personality

17 Jun

By Jessica Zuzierla

 
Social media is everywhere, and a new study shows a link between it and narcissistic personality in both adults and college students. A social media marketing professional and study details help shed some light on the issue.

Social media is responsible for some great things, such as the Arab Spring revolution, catching criminals, and even helping increase self-esteem.

On the other hand, social media is responsible for some really detrimental experiences, such as cyberstalking and cyberbullying, as Make Use Of Reports. In fact, a new University of Michigan (UM) study links social media network usage with personality shifts and massive behavior changes, both good and bad.

Is there really a connection between social media use and personality disorders or addiction? A provider of social media marketing and the UM study helps shed some light on the topic.

Social media word bubble

By Sofiaperesoa (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikim
Social media word bubble

Extreme confidence or personality disorder?

The study by the University of Michigan (UM) linked Facebook and Twitter usage with an increase in narcissistic personality traits in adults and students.

According to the abstract, students posting on Facebook are, “associated with the Exhibitionism component” of narcissistic personality. Students posting on Twitter are, “associated with the Superiority component of narcissistic personality,” and students posting on both Facebook and Twitter use both of the networks to show off, while focusing on their appearances.

On the other hand, the abstract states that adults who post only on Facebook show an increase of narcissistic personality’s superiority component. Adults who post to both Facebook and twitter are also focusing on their appearances, just as the students are, but adults are not showing off, much unlike what students are doing.

Extensive research

This is not the first study to link specific personality traits and behavior shifts with social networking, though. A study by the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, and the University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland, published in May 2011, found that in spite of social media’s beneficial uses, social networks allow criminals to operate almost completely unrestricted.

An investigative article published in February 2011 by South Source, a South University publication, revealed that while social media addiction does exist, there is a major difference between addiction and overuse.

Social Media conversation prism

Brian Solis / JESS3
Social Media conversation prism

A social media marketing professional responds

When asked if she thinks the addiction to or overuse of social media can be as harmful as any other addiction can, Cyndi Slick, partner at the Push.Nudge.Shove social media marketing service, said,

“That’s an interesting question. I would like to think that an overuse of anything can be harmful, and I am sure this can be the case with social media. I handle clients’ social media in the business sense of things … I think the biggest thing that can cause harm to a business’ social media presence is the simple fact that many people still think social media is a popularity contest.”

Business owners are people too, and they are just as susceptible to the harm and good that social media can bring. In the last few years, business owners have increasingly spent more and more money on social media marketing. A full 65 percent of marketers have increased their social media budgets for 2013, according to the Social Media Examiner. From this perspective, Slick states that,

“Social media has become the most powerful form of advertising, and businesses owners need to learn the ins and outs of social media if they want it to actually work for them. I try and spend time educating my clients on how powerful social media can be, if you use it the right way. “

In fact, she said, when people use social media, it can be powerful and when used properly, it can be a most important aspect to all areas of life. Social media does good and, according to Slick, social media can make us feel safe.

More useful than a friend hangout

For instance, the police who caught the Boston Marathon suspect used twitter as a way to let deliver suspect information, and even to let residents know when everything was OK, says this Businessweek report. Arab Spring supporters used Facebook and twitter as a way to let fellow revolutionaries know when and where to strike, as detailed in Wired.

Social media is everywhere. From the hundreds of millions of children, teens, young adults and the senior community creating new accounts daily to the hundreds of thousands of businesses using social media advertising as a marketing strategy, social media network usage continues to climb, and show no signs of slowing.

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