In 2008, the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin published a study conducted by Laura Buffardi and W. Keith Campbell that examined whether laymen could accurately rate an individuals level of narcissism based on the content of their Facebook profile.
Narcissism is a personality trait characterized by boastfulness, an inflated self-esteem, and selfishness. As Buffardi and Campbell explain, “Narcissism is associated with positive and inflated self-views of agentic traits like intelligence, power, and physical attractiveness as well as a pervasive sense of uniqueness and entitlement.”
The study collected 129 Facebook profiles from undergraduate students. These students also completed the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, a questionnaire designed to assess levels of narcissism, and completed a questionnaire concerning basic demographic information.
Another 128 undergraduate students were recruited to evaluate the collected profiles. Each of these students viewed five of the 129 profiles and rated them based on 37 different personality traits.
The study found that the students who rated the Facebook profiles could fairly accurately assess the level of narcissism of its owner.
Those who had higher levels of narcissism were more likely to have revealing photographs of themselves and self-promotional content on their profile. They also tended to have higher levels of social interactions on Facebook than those who were less narcissistic.
“In terms of overall impression of the social networking Web page, strangers rated narcissistic individuals as more agentic (but not more communal) and more narcissistic, and furthermore, their impressions of narcissism and agency uniquely predicted Web page owners’ narcissism.”
Buffardi, L. & Campbell, W.K. (2008). Narcissism and social networking sites. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol 34: 1303-1315.