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Study Finds Generational Gap for Narcissistic Behavior on Facebook and Twitter

01.17.2014

HIGH POINT, N.C., Jan. 15, 2014 – Actively using social media sites may be a signal that someone is a narcissist, but their age may determine which social media site to watch out for. That’s the conclusion from a recent study led by Dr. Shaun W. Davenport, chair of the Department of Management and Entrepreneurship at High Point University. The study found that narcissistic college students are active on Twitter, while narcissistic adults prefer Facebook.

Davenport, along with other researchers from Appalachian State and Walden Universities, surveyed both college students and adults about their use of Twitter and Facebook, and asked them to fill out a Narcissist Personality Inventory.

They found that narcissism predicted the need to be admired and gain followers among college students and led to more tweeting, while adults met those same needs through frequent status updates on Facebook.

“It is a common assumption that Millennials are highly narcissistic and therefore their frequent use of social media is a direct manifestation of their narcissism,” says Davenport. “Although this may be true in some instances, Millennials grew up using social media and therefore are more likely to use Facebook like previous generations used the telephone. It is simply a tool for communication. In fact our results suggest narcissism is a better predictor of active Facebook usage among older adults, as these individuals did not grow up using Facebook and therefore must have a stronger motive, perhaps fueled by narcissism, to engage with and learn a new form of technology. Additionally our results suggest other key differences between Facebook and Twitter which may make Twitter a more sought after tool for narcissists.”

You can find a link to the study here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0747563213004536

Since publishing the study, it has been featured in prominent national media outlets including The Atlantic and Time Newsfeed.

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