Intellectual, Narcissistic, or Machiavellian? How Twitter Users Differ From Facebook-Only Users, Why They Use Twitter, and What They Tweet About

Tara C. Marshall*, Nelli Ferenczi, Katharina Lefringhausen, Suzanne Hill, Jie Deng

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Twitter is one of the world’s most popular social networking sites, yet gaps remain in our knowledge about the psychology of its users. The current studies sought to fill these gaps by examining whether the Big Five and Dark Triad personality traits predicted differences between Twitter users and Facebook-only users, motives for using Twitter, the frequency of tweeting about 4 topics—intellectual pursuits, personal achievements, diet/exercise, and social activities—and how much they liked to read tweets about these topics. Study 1 found that Twitter users (N = 346) were higher in openness (i.e., intellect and creativity) than Facebook-only users (N = 268). In Study 2, a preregistered replication, Twitter users (N = 255) were not only higher in openness than Facebook-only users (N = 248), but they were also more Machiavellian. In both studies, Twitter users who were higher in openness were more strongly motivated to use Twitter for career promotion, and in turn, they tweeted more frequently and most liked to read tweets about intellectual pursuits. Narcissists were more strongly motivated to use Twitter for career promotion, social connection, and attention-seeking, and in turn, they tweeted more frequently and most liked to read tweets about personal achievements and diet/exercise. On average, participants most liked to read tweets about intellectual pursuits and least liked tweets about diet/exercise. We discuss the implications of these findings for tailoring one’s tweets to retain followers and for drawing the boundary conditions when extrapolating from Twitter-based “big data” to larger populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-30
Number of pages17
JournalPsychology of Popular Media
Volume9
Issue number1
Early online date13 Dec 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020

Keywords

  • Big Five personality traits
  • Dark Triad
  • Facebook
  • social media
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Communication
  • Cultural Studies
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)

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