Facebook, Narcissism and Fear of Missing Out

Do you have a Facebook problem? If so, you’re not alone – well, as long as you’re on Facebook, anyway!

Psychologists sometimes talk about “Facebook intrusion,” which is the idea that Facebook use can develop addictive or compulsive elements to the point that it starts to interfere with people’s lives. There’s even a questionnaire designed to measure Facebook intrusion that looks for telltale signs like feeling distressed when you can’t use Facebook and trying unsuccessfully to cut back on Facebook usage.

So what causes people to develop this kind of relationship with Facebook? Recently, a pair of researchers in Poland looked at two possible factors: narcissism and fear of missing out.

It’s not hard to see why these might be related to Facebook intrusion. If you’re highly narcissistic, Facebook is a great place to talk about yourself, and if you’re highly afraid of missing out on things, you can always log in to Facebook and see what’s going on.

In their study, the researchers showed that both high fear of missing out and high narcissism predicted Facebook intrusion. That is, people whose lives were more disrupted by Facebook use tended to score higher on both of these traits.

The study also examined how these traits related to life satisfaction. It found that, as you might expect, people with higher fear of missing out tended to be less satisfied with life. Interestingly, though, people with higher narcissism tended to have higher life satisfaction.

Of course, Facebook use, narcissism and fear of missing out all exist on a spectrum. Many people use Facebook without becoming “addicted,” just like many people like to toot their own horn without becoming raging narcissists and many people dislike being left out without becoming excessively insecure about it. So, even for people who don’t experience “Facebook intrusion,” this study sheds some light on the basic impulses that keep us logging back on to social media sites.

Image: Flickr/Kuningmas Auto Care