'Liking' Lots of People's Selfies on Instagram Could Mean You're Narcissistic

Instagram behavior can tell a lot about a person's psychology. Carl Court/Getty Images

It seems the only one who can tolerate narcissists are other narcissists. New research from South Korea found that individuals who score highly for narcissistic personality traits on a psych test were also likely to appreciate the social media posts of other adults who scored equally narcissistic, proving that narcissism loves company.

For the study, published online in Computers in Human Behavior, researchers at Sejong University in South Korea conducted two experiments to help them better understand how narcissists navigate Instagram. For the first experiment, the team tested the volunteers' responses to other users as measured by the volunteers' willingness to "like" other posted selfies—a photograph taken by the only person in the image. In the second experiment, the researchers tested the volunteers' need for attention and Instagram popularity by measuring personal data such as the number of selfies they posted and the frequency with which these selfies were posted. In total, the team tested 276 adults who were recruited online, Psy Post reported.

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Results showed individuals who scored higher for having narcissistic personality traits were also more likely to show favorable attitudes to other people's selfies and display a greater intention to "follow" other narcissists on Instagram.

"Narcissism is a positive indicator of willingness to take selfies and frequency of posting selfies. Why do people not only post selfies but also 'like' and 'follow' others who post selfies?" study author Seunga Venus Jin of Sejong University told PsyPost.

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Although the answer to this was not found in this particular study, it may simply be another act of self-promotion. As Indy100 noted, following other Instagram accounts and liking others people's photos is one way to ensure that you can gain more personal followers and increase your own online popularity.

The research also offers insight into the brain of a narcissist. According to the National Institutes of Health, narcissistic personality disorder is a pattern of arrogant behavior that supports an individual's own personal grandiose beliefs. Jin told PsyPost that this study only focused on one type of narcissist, the grandiose narcissist. There is another type of narcissist, the vulnerable narcissist. This is described as someone more closely associated with insecurity and social withdrawal.

Both forms of the condition are characterized by a constant need for admiration and lack of empathy for others. It's clear why Instagram, a social media platform where you can be constantly admired and adored by countless friends and strangers alike, was chosen as the model for this study.