Facebook is a mirror and Twitter is a megaphone, according to a new University of Michigan study exploring how social media reflect and amplify the culture's growing levels of narcissism.
New research shows that narcissistic college students and their adult counterparts use social media in different ways to boost their egos and control others' perceptions of them.
The study, published online in Computers in Human Behavior, was conducted by U-M researchers Elliot Panek, Yioryos Nardis and Sara Konrath.
"Among young adult college students, we found that those who scored higher in certain types of narcissism posted more often on Twitter," said Panek, who recently received his doctorate in communication studies from U-M and will join Drexel University this fall as a visiting fellow.
"But among middle-aged adults from the general population, narcissists posted more frequent status updates on Facebook."
According to Panek, Facebook serves narcissistic adults as a mirror.
"It's about curating your own image, how you are seen, and also checking on how others respond to this image," he said. "Middle-aged adults usually have already formed their social selves, and they use social media to gain approval from those who are already in their social circles."
For narcissistic college students, the social media tool of choice is the megaphone of Twitter.