Narcissists love posting selfies on Instagram—but it also turns out that those who follow or like their posts are also likely to be narcissists themselves.
A research team led by Seunga Venus Jin, of Sejong University in Seoul, South Korea, studied 276 adult Instagram users recruited online through Amazon Mechanical Turk. The two-part study first evaluated the narcissistic tendencies of study participants, asking them how much they agreed with statements such as “I really like to be the center of attention,” and “I like to look at my body.”
Researchers found that adults who posted selfies more frequently showed higher narcissism scores. “Inherently narcissistic people post more selfies,” Jin tells Broadly.
As part of the study, narcissists and non-narcissists alike also were asked to evaluate the perceived narcissism of other Instagram users—for example, asking them how much they agreed with statements such as “she likes to show off her body” and “she likes to be the center of attention," as well as asking them to score the users on traits like arrogance and self-confidence.
“Whereas non-narcissists indicated more negative attitude towards selfies, lower intention to post selfies, and lower intention to follow the selfie-posting Instagram users than narcissists, narcissists indicated higher intention to follow the selfie-posting Instagram users,” explains Jin.
In essence: If you're a narcissist, you are not only more likely to want to post your own selfies—you're also more likely to positively tolerate and even follow other social media users perceived to be narcissists.
It’s important to emphasize that the researchers were specifically focusing on assessing grandiose narcissism—a form of narcissism linked to extraversion and an inflated view of your own physical attractiveness.
So, narcissists follow other narcissists on Instagram, and together they pollute your social media feed. But are narcissists born, or shaped by social media? Is Instagram making the problem worse?
“It works both ways,” Jin says. “Inherently narcissistic people post more selfies, and posting selfies and other narcissistic social media usage behavior, such as digitally enhancing photos to make other people believe that they look attractive and beautiful than they actually are, can encourage narcissistic behaviour.”
Selfies or no selfies, I’ll use Instagram for what it’s properly for: dank meme content.