We all have a few Facebook friends who regularly post updates about how they can’t wait to rush home to the significant other of their dreams after a superfood bowl following a sunrise Crossfit sesh.
It would all be very wonderful if it weren’t so narcissistic and sad.
Such is the conclusion of a recent study from Brunel University London that explored the personality traits and motives that influence the topics people choose to write about in their Facebook status updates.
The research determined that people who post Facebook status updates about their romantic partner are more likely to have low self-esteem, while those who brag about diets, exercise, and accomplishments are typically narcissists.
A series of online surveys measuring the ‘Big Five’ personality traits – extroversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness – as well as self-esteem and narcissism were analyzed for the study.
“It is important to understand why people write about certain topics on Facebook because their updates may be differentially rewarded with ‘likes’ and comments,” said BUL Psychology lecturer Dr. Tara Marshall. “People who receive more likes and comments tend to experience the benefits of social inclusion, whereas those who receive none feel ostracized.”
But since social media is just a big ecosystem of phoniness anyway, this fact matters very little.
“Although our results suggest that narcissists’ bragging pays off because they receive more likes and comments to their status updates, it could be that their Facebook friends politely offer support while secretly disliking such egotistical displays,” says Marshall.
Ah, yes, the classic hate-like.
Some specific takeaways from the research:
– People with low self-esteem posted status updates about their current romantic partner more frequently.
– Narcissists posted more about their achievements, which was motivated by their need for attention and validation from the Facebook community. These updates also received a greater number of ‘likes’ and comments, indicating that narcissists’ boasting may be reinforced by the attention they crave.
– Narcissists also wrote more status updates about their diet and exercise routine, suggesting that they use Facebook to broadcast the effort they put into their physical appearance.
– Conscientiousness was associated with writing more updates about one’s children.
No surprise to those who read such updates on the regular. And to their authors – just know we can see through your humblebrags.