New research published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking has found that a certain type of narcissist is more likely to have an obsession with the Internet.
Key features of narcissism include attention-seeking, a sense of entitlement, immodesty, self-absorption, manipulativeness, and a lack of empathy. Narcissism has been divided two particular subtypes: grandiose and vulnerable. Grandiose narcissism is characterized by aggression, immodesty, arrogance, and an over-inflated self-esteem. Vulnerable narcissism, on the other hand, is characterized by defensiveness, insecurity, and a lower self-esteem.
Past research has found that narcissists tend to use social networking sites (SNSs) like Facebook and Instagram to project a perfected image of themselves and seek the admiration of others. So psychologists Silvia Casale, Giulia Fioravanti and Laura Rugai of the University of Florence set out to examine whether narcissism was related to problematic Internet use.
The researchers had 535 students from a European University complete a questionnaire that measured their levels of narcissism and examined their use of the Internet. They found that 80 of the students could be classified as grandiose narcissists while another 67 could be classified as vulnerable narcissists. The remaining 388 students did not meet the threshold for either narcissistic category.
The questionnaire revealed that vulnerable narcissists were more likely than non-narcissists to agree with statements such as “Online social interactions are more comfortable for me than face-to-face interactions” and “I think obsessively about going online when I am offline.”
But there was no significant difference found between grandiose narcissists and non-narcissists in regards to problematic Internet use.
The authors of the study said the finding “highlights for the first time that vulnerable narcissists (but not grandiose narcissists) were more likely to feel safer in an online environment.”
“This suggests that SNSs might be the preferred tool among vulnerable narcissists to gain approval and admiration, whereas they might be just one of many tools grandiose narcissists use to achieve narcissistic goals.”