What lies behind a narcissist’s selfie? The Implications of Grandiose and Vulnerable Narcissist’s Instagram Usage


  • Nicole Antunes MacEwan University


Individuals are spending more time on social media sites (i.e., Instagram), which has contributed to decreased in-person contact and increased narcissism. This study examined how vulnerable narcissists (i.e., those characterized by low self-esteem, introversion) and grandiose narcissists (i.e., those characterized by high self-esteem, extraversion) engage on Instagram and how their online behaviour is perceived by others. Given that vulnerable narcissists are more likely to seek others’ approval compared to grandiose narcissists, vulnerable narcissists may be more concerned with their social media behaviour (e.g., spend more time editing their selfies). In turn, these behaviours may be visible to other social media users. In Study 1, we explored whether vulnerable narcissists would spend more time taking selfies and editing them compared to grandiose narcissists. Target participants (N = 152) took selfies in the lab and completed questionnaires assessing their social media engagement. We confirmed that vulnerable narcissists spend more time taking and editing selfies compared to grandiose narcissists. In Study 2, we showed the target selfies to a new sample of perceivers (N = 256) who rated each target’s narcissism, self-esteem, and social media usage. Perceivers were able to detect how long individuals spend on Instagram, how many selfies individuals take, and how long they spend taking selfies. Vulnerable narcissists, but not grandiose narcissists, were perceived as using social media more, as having lower self-esteem, and higher narcissism. Thus, vulnerable narcissists report engaging more in social media behaviours, which viewers can easily detect.

Department: Psychology

Faculty Mentor: Dr. Miranda Giacomin