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Study Links Narcissism and Facebook Activity

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(MACOMB, Ill.) -- For the average narcissist, Facebook is a tool that may promote anti-social behavior.

Facebook “offers a gateway for hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication,” according to study by Western Illinois University professor Christopher Carpenter.

The study was published this month in Personality and Individual Differences, the official journal of the International Society for the Study of Individual Differences.

In the study, Carpenter defined narcissism as “a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance,” according to a press release from the university.

Using a Narcissistic Personality Inventory, Carpenter and his students surveyed 292 people -- most of whom were college students -- to measure “self-promoting” Facebook behavior, such as people posting status updates, their photos, updating profile information; as well as “anti-social behaviors,” including seeking social support more than providing it, getting angry when others do not comment on status updates and retaliating against negative comments.

People who score higher on the inventory promoted themselves more on Facebook -- by tagging themselves and updating their newsfeeds more frequently, and by having more friends on Facebook, according to a report in the Guardian newspaper.

The study concluded that grandiose exhibitionism correlated with anti-social behavior on Facebook. Self-esteem was negatively related to self-promotion and anti-social behaviors on the site.

“In general, the ‘dark side’ of Facebook requires more research in order to better understand Facebook’s socially beneficial and harmful aspects in order to enhance the former and curtail the latter,” Carpenter said.

Social media sites, particularly Facebook and Twitter, have long been criticized for being vehicles for meaningless relationships, and have recently been mentioned in connection with making bullying easier and more pervasive.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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