Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissists’ Reactions to Social Media Profiles
Social media (e.g., Instagram) provides a platform ripe for making upward social comparisons (i.e., comparing oneself to someone better off; Dumas et al., 2017; Frederick & Zhang, 2019). These upward comparisons have negative implications for people’s self-esteem, particularly when individuals seek social validation (Greenwood et al., 2018; Vogel et al., 2014). Vulnerable narcissists (i.e., introverted, insecure, but egotistical individuals) and grandiose narcissists (i.e., extroverted, confident, and egotistical individuals) look for others’ approval via social media more than their non-narcissistic counterparts (Greenwood et al., 2018; Ozimek et al., 2018) Using social media as a means of social validation may negatively impact narcissist’s self-esteem, particularly after viewing successful Instagram influencers. The present study investigated how grandiose and vulnerable narcissists feel after viewing popular Instagram profiles. We hypothesized that vulnerable narcissists would engage in more social comparison and experience lower self-esteem after viewing successful social media influencer profiles than grandiose narcissists. Participants (N = 201; 154 females, 46 males; Mage = 20.92, SD = 3.63) were randomly assigned to view either 10 popular Instagram influencer profiles or food profiles and their self-esteem was assessed. We found that individuals high in grandiose narcissism experienced lower self-esteem after viewing influencer profiles compared to those low in grandiose narcissism. Those high in vulnerable narcissism, however, experienced a decrease in self-esteem after viewing both food and influencer profiles compared to those low in vulnerable narcissism. Social media perpetuates a cycle of social comparisons that contributes to decreases in self-esteem, particularly among those high in vulnerable and grandiose narcissism.
Presented in absentia on April 27, 2020 at "Student Research Day" at MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta. (Conference cancelled)
Faculty Mentor: Miranda Giacomin