The Relationship between Internet Social Networking, Social Anxiety, Self Esteem, Narcissism, and Gender among College Students

Diana E Weiss, Pace University


The use of the internet as a social medium has been demonstrated to have both positive and negative consequences and the question of who uses these Social Networking Sites (SNSs), and why, is one of interest and concern. Better understanding of who uses SNSs and why they choose to, can help target interventions toward those for whom SNS use may lead to problematic outcomes and encourage the use of those for whom SNSs are beneficial. Many researchers, following the indications of social network theory, looked to personality traits and features in order to explain SNS activity, and found significant support for this "rich get richer" theory. Other lines of inquiry pursued narcissism, self esteem, and social anxiety, independently, as predictors of SNS use. Yet many findings in this area are conflicting. The primary aim of this research was to elucidate further the question of a relationship between social anxiety, self esteem, narcissism, and SNS use. A secondary goal was to evaluate differences in types of SNS use for the socially anxious individual. Additionally, the issue of gender differences in SNS activity was explored. The sample consisted of 171 male and female college students aged 18-30. Participants completed a self report demographic form, which detailed their amount and purpose for using the SNS Facebook, the Leibowitz Social Anxiety Scale – Self Report, the Rosenberg Self Esteem Scale, and the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (16). Analyses of the data collected indicated that social anxiety was not related to the overall amount of time individuals spent using the SNS Facebook nor was self esteem found to moderate the lack of consistency. Narcissism was also shown to be unrelated to an individual's total time spent using their SNS or their number of status updates. However, data collected about the purpose of SNS use did indicate that individuals who report high levels of social anxiety are more apt to use SNSs for the purposes of gathering information, and especially for the purposes of connection. Findings indicated that gender did not influence the amount of time an individual chose to spend using the SNS Facebook. However, women were found to be more likely to use Facebook for friendship purposes than men. Future research on social network theory should aim to explore the differences in purposes of internet use, especially when considering the use of SNSs.

Subject Area

Social psychology|Personality psychology|Web Studies

Recommended Citation

Weiss, Diana E, "The Relationship between Internet Social Networking, Social Anxiety, Self Esteem, Narcissism, and Gender among College Students" (2013). ETD Collection for Pace University. AAI3570710.



Remote User: Click Here to Login (must have Pace University remote login ID and password. Once logged in, click on the View More link above)