Motivation for Selfie-Posting Mediates the Relationship Between Narcissism and Empathy

Caroline Salafia, Anurag Rimzhim


Recent times are associated with an unprecedented increase and predicted growth in social media use that can have profound implications for psychosocial behavior. We investigated how a popular social media activity (i.e., selfie-posting) is related with maladaptive personality traits (i.e., narcissism) and a prosocial capacity (i.e., empathy) in the non-clinical population. While social media use can feed narcissistic traits by allowing self-promotion and attention-seeking, such a use can also decrease our empathy. We examined if empathy is predicted by trait narcissism in the context of attention-seeking motivation for selfie-posting. We studied both grandiose with vulnerable narcissistic traits as they differ in strategic use of social media. Previous studies suggest narcissism is positively related with selfie-posting and negatively with empathy, but the relationship between selfie-posting and empathy has largely been unexamined. Using mediation models, we tested whether attention-seeking motivation for selfie-posting provides a mechanism for narcissistic traits to relate with empathy. Results show both grandiose and vulnerable narcissism are positively associated with selfie-posting, but this relationship is stronger for grandiose narcissism. Attention-seeking motivation for selfie-posting mediates the relationship between grandiose narcissism and empathy, but not between vulnerable narcissism and empathy. Our results advance previous findings to a less understood social media activity (selfie-posting), for users of both Facebook and Instagram, and for both grandiose and vulnerable narcissistic traits. They also suggest that some social media use may be positively related with empathic behavior, and narcissistic traits may be malleable.


narcissism; social media; empathy; grandiose; Facebook; Instagram

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