Why do Narcissist use Social Networking Sites?


The Millenial generation are those in college from 2000 to late 2010. It’s the same period in which social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Hyves in The Netherlands saw a massive increase in users. To some, the millennial generation are more narcissistic than earlier generations. From wikipedia, the millennial generation is generally marked by an increased use and familiarity with communications, media, and digital technologies.

Might their be some connection between increased narcissism in this generation and the increase of use of social networking sites?

We’re talking about subclinical narcissists. They hold an inflated view of themselves, believe they are special and unique, and expect special treatment from others while believing they owe little or nothing in return. They lack empathy and have few, if any, close relationships, yet they strongly desire social contact, as others serve as their primary source of admiration and attention. Because narcissists are unable to regulate their own self-esteem, they must rely on external sources for affirmation. Almost comparable to clinical entity of narcissistic personality disorder but to a lesser degree.

Why social networking sites?
Because narcissists crave attention of others and seek admiration and attention from others in order to maintain their self-esteem.

SNSs provide an ideal outlet for narcissists to satisfy these needs as SNSs allow users to receive relational benefits from a large number of loose or ‘‘weak tie’’ connections

A total of 361 participants recruited from undergraduates completed an online survey. This survey consisted of the narcissistic personality inventory, items about social networking sites use, reasons for use of social networking sites, the use of photos with themselves on it, questions about other activities on the social networking sites and questions about the importance of their profile image.

Narcissism predicted reasons why Millennials use social networking sites:

  • Narcissism had a significant, positive relationship with the reported importance of getting to know as many people online as possible and the number of friends.
  • Narcissism predicted wanting their friends to know what they were doing
  • Narcissism predicted believing their friends were interested in what they are doing
  • Narcissism predicted having their profiles project a positive image

Narcissism did not predict more use of social networking sites compared to non-narcissists. This study doesn’t proof a causal relationship between use of social networking sites and narcissism in Millennials. The use of social networking sites might be just a product of the times. Previous generations might have used other means of communication for staying connected. Using social networking sites might be another outlet for narcissistic types.

The online environment allows narcissists to effectively manage their image by controlling the information and activities that are displayed. This control allows narcissists to hide their inadequacies and, thus, bolster their selfesteem.

Bergman, S., Fearrington, M., Davenport, S., & Bergman, J. (2011). Millennials, narcissism, and social networking: What narcissists do on social networking sites and why Personality and Individual Differences, 50 (5), 706-711 DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2010.12.022