It has been widely claimed that the social networking website Facebook promotes narcissism. There has even been some scholarship towards the effect. The paper Narcissism on Facebook: Self-promotional and anti-social behavior published by Christopher Carpenter in the journal Personality and Individual Difference reported that Facebook users that scored higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory were more like to use the website more often.

Using data from the personality tests on this website I am going to try to verify this research and extend it to all three of the dark triad personality traits (narcissism, machiavellianism and psychopathy). I will draw the data from three separate tests, one for each trait –the Narcissistic Personality Inventory, the MACH-IV, and the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale– and divide it into two groups, one group that was referred to the tests via Facebook and one group that came to the test via Google (this will serve as the control group, Google users would seem to relatively synonymous with web users, sorry Bing).

The data is graphed below (the vertical scales in each case is the full range each measured by each scale).

As can be seen, those that came to the test through Facebook were actually less narcissistic than individuals who came from Google. Ditto for psychopathy and machivallianism.

So, where does this leave the theory that Facebook is a simmering stew of narcissism? Well, this probably does not say that much as Google users who search out tests of narcissism are probably not an accurate sample of Google users. Still, it is not obviously consistent with the Facebook as narcissism hypothesis.

In psychology, machiavellianism is the tendency to deceive and manipulate in service to one’s goals. It is measured by the MACH-IV, a 20 item self report inventory developed in the 1960′s.

Data from an online version of the test offered on this website is below.

Distributions of machivellianism scores grouped by gender

The sample (n=7185 who indicated a gender, that their answers were accurate, and consented to research use) consists mostly of people who searched for ‘machivallianism test’ or people who saw the test posted by their friends on forums and facebook. Average age was 29.3.

Machiavellianism is a personality trait that reflects how likely a person is to think that manipulation of others is the solution to their problem.

It is measured by the MACH-IV personality test on a scale from 20 to 100. I have taken all of the responses collected and broken them down by age to see how growing older affects a person.

It seems people appear to be less machiavellian the older they are.