The usage of Facebook as it relates to narcissism, self-esteem and loneliness

Madeline Schwartz, Pace University


With the rapid increase of adolescent participation in sites such as Facebook, and with the critical developmental task of identity formation during adolescence, there are vital questions for further investigation regarding the utilization of social networking sites, the development of feelings about the self and personality traits. The present study examined the relationship of older adolescents' use of Facebook to their self-esteem, degree of narcissism, and ratings of loneliness. The study more specifically addressed usage of the status update feature within Facebook. Several hypotheses were proposed regarding the correlations between Facebook usage/Status update usage and the three constructs. Additionally we proposed hypotheses regarding the relationships between the constructs themselves. The study was conducted using a sample consisting of 218 Pace undergraduate students. Once informed consent was obtained, participants were given (via direct distribution) self-report measures to assess nature of overall Facebook usage; time spent on Facebook; meaningfulness of Facebook usage, frequency and meaningfulness of status updates and number of relationships formed. In addition, participants were given self-report measures of self-esteem, narcissism and loneliness. Our results indicated that Self-Esteem was negatively related to Frequency of Status Updates, Facebook Intensity and Update Intensity; suggesting that the more frequently people go on Facebook and update their status and the more meaning they attribute to having Facebook/status updates in their lives, the lower their self-esteem. In terms of narcissism, our findings demonstrate very few statistically significant relationships with aspects of Facebook usage; however one finding revealed that those who are more narcissistic tend to accumulate more Facebook friends than those who are less narcissistic. Similar to the findings with Self-esteem there were statistically significant findings for the positive relationship between Loneliness and nearly all Facebook Usage components. In terms of the relationships between the constructs themselves, our findings revealed a statistically significant positive relationship between narcissism and self-esteem, a statistically significant negative relationship between narcissism and loneliness and a statistically positive relationship between self-esteem and loneliness. This points to a psychologically healthier or perhaps grandiose conceptualization of narcissism and confirms prior research regarding the importance of belongingness to development of positive self-esteem. This study has various implications for clinicians in the fields of school and clinical psychology. More specifically, given the drastic increases in Facebook usage, clinicians will now need to become well-versed in understanding the use of Facebook by their clients so as to get a better grasp of the broader social life and relationship status. They will also need to more fully understand the quantity and quality and technical aspects of online relationships in order to help their clients achieve better outcomes such as higher self-esteem, with less narcissism and loneliness. Based on our findings, this means that clinicians should accept Facebook usage as a natural part of adolescent social development; however they carefully monitor usage and discourage excessive time spent on the site, excessive self-disclosure and excessive meaning attributed to the site in order to foster healthier development.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Developmental psychology|Clinical psychology

Recommended Citation

Schwartz, Madeline, "The usage of Facebook as it relates to narcissism, self-esteem and loneliness" (2010). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3415681.



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