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Brief Research Report ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Hum. Neurosci. | doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2019.00292

Social Media Approval Reduces Distress for People High in Narcissism: Electrophysiological Evidence

 Kyle Nash1*, Andre Johansson2 and  Kumar Yogeeswaran2
  • 1University of Alberta, Canada
  • 2University of Canterbury, New Zealand

We used event-related potentials (ERPs) to examine if posting a ‘selfie’ and receiving validation from others in the form of ‘likes’ on social media can help narcissists reduce psychological distress. After all participants completed the narcissistic personality inventory (NPI) and experienced social exclusion, participants completed an auditory startle task that elicits the P3 to white noise—an ERP component that reflects emotional arousal and is sensitive to psychological distress. Participants were then randomly assigned to either view a personal ‘selfie’ that quickly received a significant number of ostensibly real ‘likes’ (selfie with likes condition), view a ‘selfie’ with no feedback (selfie only condition), or view a neutral picture before (neutral picture condition) completing the auditory startle task again. Results revealed that participants high on the leadership/authority subscale of the NPI in the ‘selfie’ with ‘likes’ condition demonstrated a pre-post manipulation decrease in P3 mean amplitude, relative to participants in the other two conditions. These results suggest that approval via social media can help certain kinds of narcissists alleviate distress from social exclusion.

Keywords: narcissism, ERP, Social Media, distress, Selfie

Received: 26 Mar 2019; Accepted: 12 Aug 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Nash, Johansson and Yogeeswaran. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Mx. Kyle Nash, University of Alberta, Edmonton, T6G 2R3, Alberta, Canada,