Flash: Facebook photo addicts may be vain

Women who post piles of photos of themselves on sites such as Facebook are more likely to base their self-worth on appearance and use social networking to compete for attention, according to a new study which should surprise no one.

The study involved more than 300 men and women with an average age of 23.

In order to better understand aspects of social networking behavior, the researchers looked at the amount of time subjects spent managing profiles, the number of photos they shared, the size of their online networks and how promiscuous they were in terms of “friending” behavior, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times.

The participants completed a questionnaire designed to measure self-worth and were asked about their typical behaviors on Facebook.

There were differences between women and men, the Times reported.

“Overall, the results suggest that, compared with men, females identify more strongly with their image and appearance and use Facebook to compete for attention,” said Michael A. Stefanone, an assistant professor of communications at the University of Buffalo and the lead author of the study.

“The women who had the largest social networks and posted more photos of themselves were more highly vested in their appearance,” according to the Times.

Stefanone said he found it disappointing that in the year 2011 so many young women continue to assert their self-worth via their physical appearance — in this case, by posting photos of themselves on Facebook as a form of advertisement.

“Perhaps this reflects the distorted value pegged to women’s looks throughout the popular culture and in reality programming from ‘The Bachelor’ to ‘Keeping Up with the Kardashians.’ ” he said.

The people who tended to base their self-worth on things like academic competence, family love and support, and being a virtuous or moral person spent less time online and showed less interest in attention-seeking through social media, the paper added.

The study was published this week in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking.

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