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Twitter and Narcissism

Jun 13, 2013 by

Jay P. Greene

Back in April I argued:

Twitter can be handy for announcing links to other material, following breaking news and unfolding events, or for humor.   But for policy discussion, Twitter has to be just about the dumbest thing on the planet.  Watching people attempt to have meaningful exchanges on Twitter is just ridiculous….  Some education policy analysts, however, are undeterred by the stupidity of Twitter and are determined to attempt to change the world through thousands of 140 character messages.  Quite often they are communicating thousands of profound 140 character messages to a relatively small number of followers.  As is too typical in education policy debates, everyone is on the stage and almost no one is in the audience.

I then went on to develop “the Narcissus Index, which is the ratio of the number of Tweets people have issued to the number of their followers.  Essentially it is the ratio of how much we love hearing ourselves talk to how many people actually want to listen to us.”

Well, researchers at the University of Michigan have confirmed my suspicion that there is a link between Twitter use and Narcissism:

Researchers interviewed 486 college students…. Researches administered a personality assessment that evaluated a person’s narcissism and found that participants who appeared to have a superior sense of self were likely to be active on Twitter….   Likewise, adults who scored high on a narcissism assessment were likely to be active on Facebook, where the goal is to curate an image and control how you are seen….   According to the U-M release, the study is among the first to compare the relationship between narcissism and social media use across ages.

The researchers were unable to say which came first, the chicken or the egg. In other words, does constant social media use breed narcissism or is it a symptom of the condition?  The study is published online in Computers in Human Behavior.

There you have it.  Science reports that there is a connection between Narcissism and Twitter.  Now everyone proceed to argue about this in 140 characters or less with your customary level of outrage and snark.  Doing so will make the world a better place 140 characters at a time.


Twitter and Narcissism | Jay P. Greene’s Blog.

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