A Facebook page might tell more about its owner than people realize.
If you're a narcissist — a vain, self-promoting sort with illusions of undeserved grandeur — you're likely to show it in your Facebook profile, according to a new study conducted in part by University of Kentucky psychology professor Nathan DeWall.
The study shows that narcissists tend to display more self-promoting and sexy images, even as they use fewer first-person singular pronouns, such as "I" and "me." Some narcissists also use profane and aggressive words to call attention to themselves online.
In other words, although many use Facebook to rage about the Casey Anthony verdict, trade cute animal videos and share news about friends and family, narcissists are working the system — much as they do when not using social media.
One portion of the study was conducted using a sample of undergraduate college students, while another used surveys, questionnaires and essays on adults.
DeWall, who has conducted previous research on narcissism in popular culture, said narcissists are probably unaware of their actions, which he said happens beneath their conscious awareness.
"Narcissists will often use Facebook to get what they want — admiration and recognition and other things that they strive for in everything that they do," he said.
Other researchers involved in the study include Laura Buffardi of the Universidad de Deusto in Spain and W. Keith Campbell, a University of Georgia academic who is quoted in the August edition of Psychology Today, which features a cover story on narcissists.
Everyone has a touch of self-esteem — without it, you'd be psychologically barren — but it behooves those living in the world of social media to watch for the cues others are sending.
"I love social media," DeWall said. "I use it ... but we also have to be careful about where we're blurring the lines between what we think and what's actually true."