Study Finds People Who Relationship Brag on Facebook Are More Likely to Have Low Self-Esteem

We’ve all had that one friend in our social group who likes to post on Facebook about every single thing happening in their lives. Whether it be pictures of their breakfast or a new pair of shoes they just recently bought, it’s usually just one post after another about themselves. But what scientists have recently discovered a correlation between the frequency of posts and a person’s self-esteem. Mainly, the more a person posts online, the lower their self-esteem is.

Narcissists tend to be the main subject of this study, with how they post about their achievements, no matter how trivial, expecting a flood of likes from their peers. But what was clearly stated is that the lowest self-esteem levels seemed to belong to people who post about how great their relationships are going, especially detailing the gorgeous traits of their partners.

Now that may seem like an obvious statement, but this research was the first in its field to really look into online posting behavior and their subsequent motivations. Perhaps ironically, the way narcissists bombard us with their life-pursuits seem to be working to their favor fairly well.

Tara Marshall, lead researcher and psychologist from Brunel University London in the UK, had this to say during a media release:

“About how Facebook status updates reflecting that person’s personality traits might not be the most groundbreaking discovery, it is still important to understand why these people post the things they do. Especially since these updates may be differentially rewarded with ‘likes’ and comments. Status updates that receive a lot of these often offer the poster a sense of social inclusion, while users who’s posts don’t get any attention will feel ostracized.”

The study took 555 Facebook users and asked them to answer an online survey. The survey questions were intended to measure the “Big Five” personality traits – neuroticism, extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness. It could also estimate the survey-takers’ self-esteem level  as well as their tendency towards narcissism.

The survey also yielded details of the participants, such as frequency of posting, what the post’s subjects were about and their reason for posting. The researchers then tallied the amount of likes and comments for each category.

Here are the survey results:

Extraverts use Facebook as a means of connecting with others and to synchronize their social activities
People who post about their romantic partners tend to have a below than average level of self-esteem
Posts made by conscientious people are commonly about their children
Openness was directly related to thought-provoking posts
Narcissists, perhaps unsurprisingly, post frequently about their personal achievements (e.g. diets, travel plans, exercise regimes) while expecting validation from their peers

Out of all these categories, the narcissists were the ones to receive the most likes and comments. In fact, one could say that their efforts did not go in vain, with their expectations being met. Because of these, narcissists tend to post even more about themselves, adding fuel to their egotistical behavior.

According to Marshall, just because the narcissists’ efforts paid off, it does not necessarily mean that they are validated by their peers. It is more than likely that the effort that the people who “support” their achievements through likes and comments is just superficial, and that they secretly detest the posts made by these type of people.

“If people were more aware of how their posts affected their peers, then that could help drastically lower the amount of status updates that annoy instead of entertain” Marshall adds.

The study has been published in the journal “Personality and Individual Differences”. The team of researchers now aim to see if there is a direct relationship between subject matter of the posts and how likeable the poster is in the online scene, as well as in their real lives.

In sum, whenever you see a person you know frequently post about themselves on Facebook, it’s likely that they are just being needy and narcissistic. And even though they may be your friends, your likes will most likely do more harm than good.