The more Facebook friends you have, the unhappier you are

The more Facebook friends you have, the more likely that you're using the social network for narcissistic purposes, and as such means you're unhappy, according to a new study.

We've already heard that more Facebook friends equals more stress, but there's apparently also a direct link between the number of friends you have on Facebook and how much of a narcissist you are. In other words, the more Facebook friends you have, the unhappier you are.

The findings come from a study titled "Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and Anti-social Behavior," conducted by Christopher Carpenter, a 30-year old assistant professor of communication at the Western Illinois University. He defines narcissism as "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance" and says that for the average narcissist, Facebook "offers a gateway for hundreds of shallow relationships and emotionally detached communication."

Researchers studied 292 college students and found that those with more friends on Facebook tended to score higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) questionnaire. The NPI was used to measure self-promoting Facebook behaviors, such as posting status updates, photos of oneself, and updating profile information, as well as several 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.

The full study is available in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, Vol. 52, issue 4 (March 2012). You can purchase it from ScienceDirect. Here's the abstract:

A survey (N = 292) was conducted that measured self-promoting Facebook behaviors (e.g. posting status updates and photos of oneself, updating profile information) and several anti-social behaviors (e.g. seeking social support more than one provides it, getting angry when people do not comment on one’s status updates, retaliating against negative comments). The grandiose exhibitionism subscale of the narcissistic personality inventory was hypothesized to predict the self-promoting behaviors. The entitlement/exploitativeness subscale was hypothesized to predict the anti-social behaviors. Results were largely consistent with the hypothesis for the self-promoting behaviors but mixed concerning the anti-social behaviors. Trait self-esteem was also related in the opposite manner as the Narcissism scales to some Facebook behaviors.

"If Facebook is to be a place where people go to repair their damaged ego and seek social support, it is vitally important to discover the potentially negative communication one might find on Facebook and the kinds of people likely to engage in them," Carpenter said in a statement. "Ideally, people will engage in pro-social Facebooking rather than anti-social me-booking. 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."

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