Does Facebook Make Us Feel Special?

Self esteem from social networking is a real thing in a virtual world

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Some Facebook users can get a jolt of self esteem after interacting on the site. When a person edits their profile, they can touch up how they see themselves.

A recent study looked at the narcissism and self esteem of MySpace and Facebook users.

MySpace is more of a personal website and resulted in higher rates of narcissism, while Facebook is more interactive and resulted in higher levels of self esteem.

"Make time for real life personal interactions!"

Keith Campbell, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Georgia at Athens, teamed up with Jean Twenge, PhD, professor at San Diego State University, and Brittany Gentile, doctoral candidate at UGA, to investigate what happens to people's self perception on social media websites.

Gentile said, “Despite the name ‘social networks’, much user activity on networking sites is self-focused.”

In the study, two experiments were conducted, the MySpace portion in 2008 and the Facebook portion in 2011.

One group was asked to either edit their MySpace page or interact with Google Maps.

Results showed that those edited their MySpace pages also scored higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) than the control group.

In the second experiment, the group was asked to get on their Facebook page. They were then given a test that determined this group had higher general self esteem, but not greater narcissism than the control group.

Authors said, “Thus, spending time on social networking site(s) profiles causes young people to endorse more positive self-views, although the specific form this takes depends on the site.”

The authors continued to note that the people who scored higher for narcissism tended to have a larger number of friends on their social networking sites.

The limitation of this study is the demographic, 151 college students aged 18-22. Further research is necessary to determine whether these results represent other groups.

Dr. Campbell said, “Editing yourself and constructing yourself on these social networking sites, even for a short period of time, seems to have an effect on how you see yourself. They are feeling better about themselves in both cases. But in one they are tapping into narcissism and in the other into self esteem.”

According to Gentile, the reason for the differences in results from MySpace and Facebook users may have to do with the websites’ designs. MySpace is more like a personal webpage, whereas Facebook is more interactive with other users.

Campbell said, “Ideally, you get self esteem from having strong relationships and achieving goals that are reasonable and age-appropriate. Ideally, self esteem is not something you should take a short cut to find. It is a consequence of a good life, not something you chase.”

This study was published in the June issue of Computers in Human Behavior. No financial information was provided and no conflicts of interest were reported.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
June 28, 2012
Last Updated:
December 4, 2012