Study: Twitter is More Narcissistic Than Facebook

twitter logo

New research links narcissism with the number of Tweets college students post and finds that Tweeting is the preferred social platform for narcissists. Researcher Shaun Davenport from High Point University and his colleagues found: “Although ‘conversations’ can occur using Twitter, the medium is designed for one-way interactions where users ‘tweet’ information to their contacts. These contacts are labelled as ‘followers’ in Twitter rather than the more egalitarian label of ‘friends’ in Facebook. Given that narcissists have an inflated self-view and engage in a variety of strategies aimed at bringing attention to themselves, features unique to Twitter may be more appealing to narcissists than those on sites such as Facebook.”

More than 1,000 participants, aged between 18 and 75, were interviewed by researchers looking at the personality traits of social media users.

Interviewees were asked questions, including how often they tweeted, how many Twitter followers they had and how often they updated their Facebook profiles.They were also asked to answer the 40 question Narcissistic Personality Inventory questionnaire. The questionnaire is designed to pick up on different aspects of the narcissistic personality, including self-absorption, vanity, and superiority. Other narcissistic qualities are exhibitionistic tendencies, as well as a sense of deserving respect and a willingness to manipulate and take advantage of others. Overall, the researchers discovered that narcissism was more closely linked with prolific tweeting than with updating Facebook.

“Narcissists believe themselves to be superior, unique or special and therefore exhibit entitled behaviors and beliefs, such as demanding special treatment.”Twitter likely provides an even more attractive platform for narcissists because it lends itself more readily to frequent, self-centred updates and provides for the shallow, non-intimate, non-reciprocal relationships (i.e., one-way relationships) most likely desired by narcissists.”

The research also supported previous findings linking narcissistic traits with the number of Facebook friends people have.

“Narcissism was a stronger predictor of Facebook friends than Twitter followers in both the college and adult samples. This may be a result of the affordances made by each platform. Facebook allows narcissistic users to make friend requests directly, while Twitter users typically acquire followers by garnering interest in the tweets that they generate.”

You can read the report from Davenport in Computers in Human Behavior Journal.