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New study claims people who post their fitness routines to Facebook are narcissists

Is your gym selfie a sign of sickness—or are you just proud of your working routine?


Nayomi Reghay


Published Aug 12, 2016   Updated May 26, 2021, 6:46 am CDT

We all have that Facebook friend who thrives on posting gym selfies. We see daily snapshots of their healthy lunches, and they can’t stop hashtagging their #gains. Sure, we give it a “like” or a comment. We encourage our pals.

But when those friends start to post with alarmingly high-frequency, we have to start wondering, “What’s motivating the nonstop fitness posts?”

Well, according to a new study, they’re probably narcissists.

A team of psychologists at Brunel University in London surveyed 555 Facebook users to examine their motives for posting. The survey also measured self-esteem, narcissism, and the ‘Big Five’ personality traits: extroversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

The research found that:

  • People with low self-esteem more frequently posted status updates about their current romantic partner.
  • Narcissists more frequently updated about their achievements, which was motivated by their need for attention and validation from the Facebook community. These updates also received a greater number of “likes” and comments, indicating that narcissists’ boasting may be reinforced by the attention they crave.
  • Narcissists also wrote more status updates about their diet and exercise routine, suggesting that they use Facebook to broadcast the effort they put into their physical appearance.
  • Conscientiousness was associated with writing more updates about one’s children.

According to Dr Tara Marshal, “Although [the] results suggest that narcissists’ bragging pays off because they receive more likes and comments to their status updates, it could be that their Facebook friends politely offer support while secretly disliking such egotistical displays.”

Conversely, as Daily Dot’s Selena Larson pointed out, selfies can also aid in the recovery of those suffering from eating disorders and self-confidence issues, allowing them a place to turn when they’re feeling particularly alone.

So everyone just do what makes you feel good—and don’t like anything unless you really like it.

H/T Business Insider

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*First Published: Aug 12, 2016, 1:39 pm CDT