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May 22, 2015 08:35 PM EDT

Facebook Posts About Relationships And Accomplishments May Reveal Low Self-Esteem, Narcissism

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New research suggests that people with low self-esteem frequently posts status updates about their romantic partner, RT reported.

Researchers Brunel University London found that people who post status updates about their love life are more likely to have low self-esteem, while those who brag about diets, exercise, and accomplishments are typically narcissists.

"It might come as little surprise that Facebook status updates reflect people's personality traits," researcher Dr. Tara Marshall said in a statement. "However, it is important to understand why people write about certain topics on Facebook because their updates may be differentially rewarded with 'likes' and comments."

For the study, researchers collected and analyzed data from 555 Facebook users who completed online surveys measuring the "Big Five" personality traits -- extroversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness -- as well as self-esteem and narcissism.

They also surveyed Facebook users to examine the personality traits and motives that influence the topics they choose to write about in their status updates -- something that few previous studies have explored.

They  found that people with low self-esteem more frequently posted status updates about their current romantic partner, while narcissists more frequently updated about their achievements, which was motivated by their need for attention and validation from the their Facebook friends, Mirror reported. These updates also received a greater number of "likes" and comments, indicating that narcissists' boasting may be reinforced by the attention they crave.

"People who receive more likes and comments tend to experience the benefits of social inclusion, whereas those who receive none feel ostracized," Marshall explained. "Although our 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. Greater awareness of how one's status updates might be perceived by friends could help people to avoid topics that annoy more than they entertain."

The findings are detailed in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

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