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This is an analysis of a March 22, 2012 article by Science Daily concerning a study by Christopher Carpenter (2012) entitled Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and Anti-social Behavior. The article captures eight of the 13 steps of a scientific investigation.

Identifying a problem of significance

Carpenter’s study on the negative impact of Facebook is timely. This is given that social networks are immensely popular in the world today. The study focuses on narcissism, which Carpenter (2012) defines as "a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, need for admiration and an exaggerated sense of self-importance". Carpenter’s study is an investigation of the impact of narcissism on Facebook users. Given the large number of Facebook users, a study on the negative impact of Facebook is significant.

Carpenter hypothesized that the grandiose exhibitionism subscale of the narcissistic personality inventory predicted the self-promoting behaviors. Another hypothesis was that the entitlement/exploitativeness subscale would predict anti-social behaviour. These were co-relational hypotheses.

Identifying factors related to the hypotheses and phenomenon

Grandiose exhibitionism included vanity, superiority, self-absorption, and tendencies of exhibitionism. Entitlement/exploitativeness subscale included feelings of deserving respect and readiness to manipulate or take advantage of others. Self-promoting Facebook behaviors included status updates, posting photos of the individual, and so forth. Anti-social behaviors included anger when others failed to comment on status updates. It also included cravings for social support rather than providing it. These attributes were could be successfully used to describe narcissistic tendencies in social networks.

Making each factor measurable

This was realized through developing the grandiose exhibitionism subscale, narcissistic personality inventory and entitlement/exploitativeness subscale. Given the abstract nature of the concepts under investigation, these inventories could help assign measurements.

Conducting the experiment

The survey sample had 292 individuals. Students from Carpenter’s class sent emails to people they knew and requested them to fill in the survey items. 75% of the respondents were college students. Emails were effective to collect the data as most Facebook users have email addresses. College students were the majority respondents given that most Facebook users are the youth.

Interpreting findings and discussion

Results indicated that grandiose exhibitionism had correlated with self-promotion while entitlement/exploitativeness had correlated with antisocial behavior on Facebook.

This led to the view that Facebook facilitated potentially negative communication. In addition, people were increasingly engaging in such negative information. Thus, people who depended on Facebook to repair their egos and seek social support were at risk. These findings were reasonable and justifiable.

More research was required to understand the beneficial and harmful aspects of Facebook so that the former could be enhanced and the latter curtailed. This was because the current research only served to sound the alarm on the negative effects of Facebook, rather than focusing on the positive and negative sides. 

Carpenter’s research was originally published in the journal Personality and individual Differences. This is a leading journal on psychological issues with a bias in personality and inter-personal differences.

Carpenter's research successfully fulfilled the demands of a scientific investigation. However, the article by Science Daily did not capture all the steps of a scientific investigation. Steps that were not reported include a literature review, testing of measuring devices, comprehensive data analysis, among others. Nevertheless, the steps reported make the study a successful scientific investigation.

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