By: Christine Schoenwald
Photo Credit: Getty Images
I do it. In fact, I do it all the time. I post to Facebook about how I worked out early or how great I’m doing at my fitness routine.
I share these posts because you wouldn’t think I do any kind of fitness, and because I want to encourage myself to continue to exercise. I’m sort of accepting my body and body-shaming myself at the same time.
And now, according to a new study from Brunel University London, people who are constantly documenting their reps, fitness routines and hours spent at the gym are most likely narcissists.
For the study, which was published in Personality and Individual Differences, researchers questioned 555 Facebook users via online surveys to look at the Big Five Personality Traits: extroversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness, as well as self-esteem and narcissism, and how these traits influenced the topics they chose to share in their status updates.
The researchers found that narcissists repeatedly posted updates about their diet and exercise routines, which suggested that they use social media to brag about the major effort they put into their physical appearance. The motivation for these frequent updates appears to be their need for attention and validation from the Facebook community.
Also, these fitness updates seem to receive a lot more likes and comments than other kinds of posts. This excessive Facebook fitness bragging on the narcissist’s part is reinforced by all the extra attention they get. And narcissists crave attention.
Lead author on the study, Dr. Tara Marshall, said, “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.”
While it’s true that constant Facebook boasting and bragging can be annoying, getting social media attention does have its benefits.
“People who receive more likes and comments tend to experience the benefits of social inclusion, whereas those who receive none feel ostracized,” Dr. Marshall said.
Once again, it’s about balance. The occasional Facebook share about how you finished the marathon or how you increased the number of minutes you spent on the treadmill are OK, just don’t post something about how incredibly fit you are multiple times throughout the day. Think about how you react when someone is always Facebook bragging.
“Greater awareness of how one’s status updates perceived by friends could help people to avoid topics that annoy more than they entertain,” said Dr. Marshall.
If you have to brag about everything you do for your hot body, maybe create a fitness journal. You can relive your exercise glories whenever you want without crowding your friends’ feeds with your bragging.
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