Facebook fanatic? You may just be insecure

Compelled to tell your 500 Facebook chums every time you can’t find your sunglasses? Want the world to know you look like Robert Pattison? Post new Photoshopped pictures every day? You, my friend, are narcissistic and insecure, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 8.

You’re also the subject of Soraya Mehdizadeh’s just-published York University study.

“Everybody knows somebody like that,” said Mehdizadeh, a psychology student in York’s Faculty of Health. “They’re updating their status every five minutes. They’re telling you what celebrity they look like. They’re posting pictures of themselves in a bikini.”

For her undergraduate psychology thesis, Mehdizadeh recruited 100 fellow university students and analyzed their Facebook postings under About Me, Status Updates, View Photos of Me, Main Photo and Notes.

The more prolific the Facebook activity, the lower they rated on the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale – and higher in the Narcissism Personality Inventory.

Men tended to be more self-promotional in About Me and Notes, she said. Women leaned toward using their Main Photo to boast.

“So many people readily just accept this new phenomenon,” said Mehdizadeh. “But why are there 175 million Facebook users? I wanted to find out if people who might be low of self-esteem or high on narcissism are more drawn to it.”

The findings, published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking, are limited by the narrow age range, she admitted. Nor does she see all this self-aggrandizement as always a bad thing. “These people could be presenting the ‘hoped for, possible self,’ “ said Mehdizadeh, who is applying to medical school.

“Facebook is a way to approach psychology today. Maybe for these people it’s a good thing. They’re not hurting anyone.”

Least of all her.

“To be honest, I don’t use Facebook much,” the 23-year-old said. “I do use the hide tool if they’re posting too much. If they’re continually saying, ‘Come to my event,’ I just delete it. I’m cutthroat.”

  • People who are addicted to Facebook are likely to be narcissistic and insecure, a new study out of York University says, wrote the Toronto Sun Sept. 7.

Soraya Mehdizadeh looked at the online habits and personalities of 100 Facebook users. Those studied were between the ages of 18 and 25 years old, split evenly between the sexes.

“The question is, are these really accurate representations of the individual or are they merely a projection of who the individual wants to be?”

Mehdizadeh says she was surprised that people with low self-esteem were more prone to use this social-networking tool. “I believe the next question to be answered is whether or not the use of such Web sites could be used to improve one’s self-esteem and overall sense of well-being. This sort of finding may have great implications in the lives of the socially anxious or depressed,” she said. The research was for Mehdizadeh’s undergraduate psychology thesis at York’s Faculty of Health.

“I thought this was an interesting way to apply theoretical paradigms in psychology to online self-presentation, which is still a fairly new concept,” she says.

  • A new study of Canadian university students suggests Facebook is a magnet for narcissists and people with low self-esteem, wrote The Canadian Press online, Sept. 8.

Participants who were deemed narcissistic and others shown to have low self-esteem, spent more time on the massively popular social-networking website, the York University research found.

Researcher Soraya Mehdizadeh also found that these people use Facebook as a means of self-promotion.

Mehdizadeh admits the sample group of just 100 participants from such a specific demographic doesn’t necessarily reflect everybody who uses Facebook.

However, she expects the findings to prompt the site’s users, who number roughly 16 million in Canada, to take a closer look at themselves – and their Facebook “friends”. “I think people get sort of defensive about it, like: ‘I don’t use my Facebook for that reason,’ because it’s a label that you don’t want to be slapped with,” she said.

Participants, all York students, took psychological tests that measured their sense of self-esteem and assessed their levels of narcissism. Sections of their Facebook pages were also examined.

  • In the Greek legend, Narcissus loved gazing at his own reflection. Today, according to Canadian psychologists, he’d be more likely to try and persuade others to look at him by posting constant status updates on Facebook, wrote the online media blog TG Daily Sept. 8.

A new study from York University has found that both narcissists and people with low self-esteem gravitate toward Facebook as a self-promotional tool and tend to be heavier users of the site.

Soraya Mehdizadeh examined the online habits and personalities of 100 Facebook users between 18 and 25 years old. She found that individuals higher in narcissism and lower in self-esteem spent more time on the site and filled their pages with more self-promotional content.

  • Toronto’s 680 NEWS and CFRB Radio reported on Mehdizadeh’s study, as did radio stations in Calgary, Regina, Edmonton and Moncton.

York researcher is bee-side himself with discovery

He didn’t win the lottery but says it sure felt like he did, wrote the Toronto Sun online Sept. 7.

Jason Gibbs (PhD ’10), a 30-year-old York University PhD grad, found a new species of the sweat bee on his way from the subway to the lab in downtown Toronto four years ago.

“I spend most of my time sitting down looking through a microscope day in and day out, it can be tedious,” Gibbs said Tuesday. “But when you get something as exciting as the discovery of a new species, I got a little excited and did the happy dance.”

Gibbs captured the sweat bee – named because they are attracted to human perspiration – on Oct. 6, 2006 and his research is being published in this month’s edition of the Zootaxa journal.

Gibbs examined and tested the DNA sequences of tens of thousands of individual bees for more than four years before discovering 19 new species of the sweat bee, including the one he found on Brunswick Ave.

“It’s important to identify these species, because if we don’t know what bees we have, we can’t know what bees we’re losing,” Gibbs said, adding the bumblebee, which was abundant in Ontario 20 years ago are now becoming extinct.

  • Jason Gibbs (PhD ’10), a 30-year-old York University PhD grad is garnering attention after finding a new species of the sweat bee on his way from the subway to the lab in downtown Toronto four years ago, wrote 24 Hours Sept. 8. “I got a little excited and did the happy dance,” Gibbs said. The son of a beekeeper, he captured the sweat bee – named because they are attracted to human perspiration – on Oct. 6, 2006. His research is being published in this month’s edition of the journal Zootaxa.

York prof helped inspire author’s journey to Judaism

Many people think back fondly about their college advisors, but Andi L. Rosenthal credits Professor Sara Horowitz, director of the Israel & Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University, for setting her on the path that would eventually lead her to write her debut novel, The Bookseller’s Sonnets (O Books, 2010) , wrote the Jewish Tribune, Sept. 2.

Rosenthal is also certain that if it were not for the undergraduate class on Holocaust literature she took with Horowitz in 1988 at the University of Delaware, she would never have begun her journey towards becoming a Jew.

Rosenthal’s study with Horowitz, who remains a mentor to her, sparked an interest in exploring her interfaith family’s complicated religious past and in discovering and nurturing her innate Jewish identity that had gone unexamined during an upbringing in Catholic churches and schools in New York. She converted to Judaism in 2002.

Smitherman’s big brother studied at York

Arthur Smitherman – the older brother of mayoral candidate George – is running for a Toronto city council seat and has thrown his support behind his brother’s main rival, Councillor Rob Ford, wrote the Toronto Sun Sept. 8.

Smitherman, 54, registered to run last week against incumbent Councillor Anthony Perruzza in York West (Ward 8).

He earned a dispute resolution certificate from York University in 2006 and hopes to use those skills as a city councillor.

Professor says new political system may be solution to economic crisis

David McNally was the first speaker in a year long lecture series titled “Socialism for the 21st Century” provided by the Marxist-leaning Havens Center. At the lecture, McNally suggested capitalism will not be able to bring new growth to the economy, wrote the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s student newspaper The Badger Herald Sept. 8.

Titled “Socialism for the 21st Century” the series kicked off with a presentation by McNally on a global economic and capitalist crisis.

Havens Center member Paul Pryse said McNally’s speech, “Global Slump: Capitalism’s Mutating Crisis,” is part of a broad program aimed at presenting the relevance and importance of Marxist ideas.

New book shows pensionless how to save properly

As Baby Boomers head for retirement, the dominant zeitgeist will be pension envy – of the lucky few who stuck with a single employer through most of their working career and now enjoy an old-fashioned, guaranteed-for-life pension plan, wrote the National Post Sept. 8.

All of which makes yesterday’s launch of Pensionize Your Nest Egg by Moshe Milevsky and Alexandra Macqueen (published by John Wiley & Sons Canada Ltd.) timely. Milevsky is an professor of finance in the Schulich School of Business at York University. Macqueen is a certified financial planner who works with Milevsky at one of his academic spinoffs, the Toronto-based QWeMa Group.

The book was written for pensionless Canadians who want to build the equivalent of those envied and increasingly rare defined-benefit pension plans.