Social Support on Facebook, Self Esteem and Self Transcendence within The Five Factor Model of Personality

Social Support on Facebook, Self Esteem and Self Transcendence within The Five Factor Model of Personality

Charles Warter
The Wright Institute, Estados Unidos
Paula Fernández Lopes
CONICET, Argentina
Spencer Varada
The Honors College at Arizona State University, Estados Unidos


Universidad de Buenos Aires, Argentina

ISSN-e: 2422-619X

Periodicity: Semestral

vol. 7, no. 1, 2021

Received: 15 March 2021

Accepted: 09 July 2021

Abstract: As human relations change the way they develop social support, social networks have become crucial to human interaction and overall subjective welfare. Critical social networks, such as Facebook, have developed hundreds upon millions of virtual communities and influence the way individuals interact with one another. This literature review aims to explore the following positive and negative implications of the use of Facebook. a) Facebook plays a negative role in the users' welfare and self-esteem. b) Facebook is also used as a communication tool to positively impact ongoing social support or increase the users' feeling of self-worth. c) Facebook can influence one's ability to detach from the external definitions of self and dissolve the rigid link between oneself and others, enabling transcendence, leading to an increased sense of self-worth. d) Lastly, the five-factor model of personality can be used to explore online and offline behavior and its impact on Self Esteem. Results of these final dimensions indicated that both (i) Neuroticism and (ii) Extraversion were positively associated with Facebook behavioral addiction, whereas (iii) Openness to Experience, (iv) Agreeableness, and (v) Conscientiousness were negatively associated with a Facebook behavioral addiction. These positive associations suggest thematic relevance and are noteworthy for future academic research. This review serves as a foundation for assessing current findings and offering recommendations for future exploration, encouraging the academic community to conduct further research as the new era of technology unfolds.

Keywords: Personality, Self-Transcendence, Self Esteem, Social Support, Facebook.


In this regard, there is still no consensus as to whether the use of Facebook impacts users’ self-esteem positively or negatively (Ellison, et. al., 2007). Some authors have observed Facebook use as having a potentially positive impact on self-esteem (Ellison, et. al., 2007; Joinson, 2003; Cerna Urbina & Plasencia Saldaña, 2012;Pettijohn, et. al., 2012) in that it has assisted individuals with low self-esteem increase their social capital (Ellison, et. al., 2007). Conversely, numerous studies suggest negative aspects within excessive and pathological use of Facebook and associations with lower self-esteem individuals (Caplan, 2002) given the prominence of individuals interested in maintaining a successful appearance on their social platforms, routinely comparing achievements their achievements with others (Arda & Fernández, 2012;Siibak, 2009), and continually craving positive feedback. The self-worth of these users begins to diminish as they regard their achievements as below their expectations or inferior to those of their peers.

According to the Five Factor Model -FFM- (Costa & McCrae, 1980) the “big five” personality dimensions allow researchers insight into individual differences. Neuroticism is defined as emotional instability in individuals with a predisposition to experience negative emotions such as fear, guilt, sadness and anger (Costa & McCrae, 1980). Extraverts tend to communicate with others, exercise assertiveness, and verbalize their thoughts. Openness to experience is characterized by the presence of active imagination, aesthetic sensitivity, capacity for introspection, and intellectual curiosity (Costa & McCrae, 1980). Agreeableness is found in those who establish psychosocial ties, tend toward altruism, and have a broad willingness to care for others (Graziano & Tobin, 2009). Finally, Responsibility refers to the ability to control impulses, acting purposefully, clear goals, planification, being organized and carry out projects and ideas (Costa & McCrae, 1996). The variance of Facebook’s impact, in that it has a positive impact on some and a negative impact on others, might relate to Personality. This is understood as the individual patterns of behavior, thought processes, and emotional development of the individual and is further informed by the FFM.

A consequence of rapid technological advancements becoming more commonplace in daily life, human relationships may be undergoing changes in the way they are developed. Social Support from networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and other forums of social interaction are beginning to play a crucial role in human interaction and welfare. These networks generate a form of “social capital”, with capital related to value and social with the value we attach to individuals. A person with strong social networks is one who has generated significant social capital that might benefit them greatly in both material and social contexts.

On Facebook, a user creates a profile and uses it to present their personality and in doing so often establishes a desired image of themselves (Barroso, 2012; Papacharissi, 2010). Photographs serve an important role in the presentation of identity and the individual elects to submit their photographs strategically (Papacharissi, 2010; Ackerman, 1979). This element of strategy underscores a connection between a user’s posting behavior and their consideration of others’ perception or understanding of them. The ability to detach oneself from the external definitions of the self and dissolve rigid connections between the self and others progressively enables transcendence to the extent that the one identifies the self as an integral part of the universe (Cloninger et al., 1993), which leads to an increase in self-worth. The relationship between personality, Self, and Self-Transcendence has been widely researched, but there is still a lack of fulfilled inquiry regarding the relationship between Self-Transcendence and Social Support on Facebook or similar social platforms.

The goal of this literature review is to provide an overview of the relationship between Social Support on Facebook (Wong, 2012; Nabi, et. al., 2013; Dolan, 2012;González Ramírez, et. al., 2013; Harfuch, et. al., 2009; Arda & Fernández, 2012; Siibak, 2009), The Five Factor Model of personality (Costa & McCrae, 1980; Amichai-Hamburger & Vinitzky, 2010; Bianchi & Phillips, 2005; Tong, et. al., 2008 ; Wang, 2012;Moore & McElroy, 2012; Wilson, 2010), Self-Esteem (Ellison, et. al., 2007), and Self-Transcendence by analyzing the articles published in this area of study and connecting these lines of research with the relationships with those who explore the relationships between self-transcendence, self-esteem, and personality (Ellison, et. al., 2007; Levenson, et. al. 2005). This review intends to assess current performance and provide recommendations to the scientific community for future research on behavior related to the use of Facebook.


Allport (1937) defines personality as a dynamic organization that determines the behaviors, thoughts, and adaptation of individuals to their specific environment. Given that the study of Personality is central to our understanding of human nature, one would assume that it might occupy a prominent position within the study of psychology. Until recently, psychologists paid relatively little attention to personality as a science (Schultz, 1976). Schultz (1976) takes a linguistic and historical approach to the study of personality. Personality derives from the Latin word persona, referring to a mask used by actors in a play. We can observe persona as referencing an outward appearance of portrayal, the public face we display to different people we encounter within our intersocial groups. From this we might conclude that personality refers to our external and visible characteristics; what the outside world sees and assesses of us. Characteristics from this conclusion would be defined by what we appear to be from the impressions we make on others.

Adams (1954) considered the common use of the word personality to describe other individuals and ourselves, suggesting that it’s meaning is gleaned through investigating our intentions using the word “I”. Schultz (1976) uses this to explain that when you say “I”, you are, in effect, summating everything about yourself and the characteristics involved with that definition of who you are. The word “I” is what defines you and separates you from what others may perceive as the definition of who you are.

Buss (1984) affirms the development of strong arguments on defining personality as a theory and offers two possible themes to help understand the concept of personality: human nature and individual differences. Pervin and John (1997) defined human nature as the common characteristics of humans in general; psychological mechanisms that are either universal or nearly universal. Allport (1937) holds individual difference in tension and explains how they are unique for each case. He offers an example of two people who possess the trait of aggressiveness. Despite sharing the trait, their unique developmental processes will result in differing manifestations of it. The unique external influences inevitably determine their personality in some way. Regardless of how it is externalized, the trait is fundamentally real and unique in its existence in the individual. Allport (1937) further asserts that many aspects of personality are not manifested until an individual interacts with others, meaning personality can be found in all social interactions and consistency between interactions is an important consideration when measuring an individual’s “true” personality. He pairs this concept with sense of self ratings and finds similarity in the methodology of how one might measure their self-esteem.

Pervin (1997) regarded personality theories as incomplete if they failed to consider the major ways in which individuals differentiate from one another. Theories of individual differences cannot be separate from theories of human nature, but rather stem from an individual’s nature and their interaction within their environments. Costa and McCrae (1980) bring a social point of view that all traits pass through the evolutionary test of survival. Traits such as independence, innovative thinking, and effective problem-solving are cultivated through this test rather than being intrinsic to an individual. These social advantages can be cosidered as having significant influence on individual differences in an evolutionary sense, implying these diverse characteristics are a part of evolution and are useful for survival within different social groups.

Simkin, et. al. (2012) brought forth a singular, comprehensive approach that has since become one of the most relevant personality theories for the past two decades. Stemming from the context of trait theory, the Five Factor Theory is a tool for researchers to study the characteristics of the short personality in a number of contexts while no longer necessitating separate studies of the hundreds of attributes used to describe different individuals


Self-Esteem is considered as the way we evaluate the notion of who we are. Introduced by William James (1890), it refers to the extent to which people evaluate themselves according to their perception of success or failure. Dorothy Corkille Briggs (1986) explains that self-esteem is defined as what each person feels for himself. It is the extent to which that person likes your own being in particular. Following this same line of thought, the psychologist American Stanley Coopersmith (1967) explains that self-esteem is the expression of an attitude of acceptance or "non-acceptance" of oneself. It is the value judgment that the individual does about his person: whether or not he is important, successful, valuable, etc. Therefore, self-esteem is defined by our social interaction and the comparisons we make within our intersocial groups ( Ortiz & Toranzo, 2005). Larson and Buss (2009) held in tension an individual’s ideal self with the their self-perception, describing self-esteem as the extent one perceives relative closeness to or distance from their ideal self.

To Crocker and Park (2004), self-esteem is the meaning and the value we create throughout the course of our development that inevitably informs, constricts, and guides the interpretation of our experience, goals, and interpersonal interests. All enmeshed produce a notion of self-construction and identity that later forms a process of self-relevance. Through this developmental process the Self takes shape while our social contexts and the network that constitutes its social world continuously influences and affect the individual.

According to Crocker (2002), what progressively drives the search for self-esteem is the desire to believe that one is worthy or valuable, inevitably impacting the way individuals perceive themselves. Crocker and Karpinski (2003) state that some individuals define self-worth on physical characteristics, such as beauty or fitness, while others define self-worth on cultural characteristics, such as wealth accumulation or professional success. The definition of self-worth depends on what we perceive as success or failure in these domains. It is in these territories we find the representation of the worth and value of an individual. Bowlby (1969, 1973) defines the pursuit of self-esteem from a developmental paradigm, as an attempt to satisfy their contingencies of self-worth. This search aids in the management of fears and anxieties.

Dykman (1998) considers the pursuit of self-esteem as being correlated to the individual’s specific goals and motivations. People are guided by their beliefs of what they need to do, have, or be before achieving worth or value. Maslow (1943) identified esteem as separate needs of respect, from others and from oneself. Relative to self-respect, the fulfillment of the need for respect from others is rather impermanent and easily lost as it requires external regard, status, and recognition. Without the fulfillment of self-respect, individuals will continually seek external validation and find difficulty in growing and obtaining self-actualization. In this sense, the needs have an inverse relationship. Greater self-respect may lessen the need for respect from others while greater respect from others may harm the cultivation of self-respect.

Continuing self-determination theory, Ryan and Deci (2000)define dependence and autonomy as essential for sustaining personal growth and well-being. Daily activities to facilitate the fulfillment of basic psychological needs and positively affect the well-being of an individual while failure to fulfill these needs negatively affects such well-being. Mruk (2006) states the two sources of self-esteem as being competence and worthiness. Competence refers to effectiveness and the capacity to successfully reach proposed objectives. Worthiness relates to personal value and is dependent on the acceptance and appreciation provided by family, peer groups, significant others, and one’s community. Genuine self-esteem or self-worth is produced by the combination and integration of worthiness and competence.

Rosenberg (1986) offers a definition of self-esteem as reaching a state of self-love. In this state, the individual considers themselves capable of appreciating merits while recognizing mistakes. His study found that people with low self-esteem are more likely to feel awkward, shy, unable to express themselves with confidence, and continually worry about making mistakes or facing ridicule. Carver and Scheier (1998) state that individuals experience elevated states of self-esteem when they successfully reach their goals. Failure to reach goals has a negative relationship with self-esteem. Crocker and Wolfe (2001) firmly assert that not all successes and failures affect a person’s self-esteem, but that self-esteem responds to both positive and negative events in varied ways.

Personality & Self-Esteem

While consensus remains to be found on a theoretical explanation of the relationship between personality and self-esteem, most authors identify different aspects of each factor that could contribute to increased perceptions of Competence or Worthiness (Simkin et. al, 2012). Figueredo, et. al., (2006) found little relationship between openness to experience and self-esteem. A potential explanation for this could be that the conduct of this dimension is not generally accepted as a social trait, therefore it has lesser impact on the individual’s sense of worthiness or merit

Cupani and Pautassi (2013) find the dimension of conscientiousness as being positively related to competence. This could find further positive associations with worthiness and self-esteem. Zelensky and Larsen (2002) examined extraverts as developing positive self-concept which leads to greater levels of self-esteem. Findings brought by Pullman and Allik (2000) create a distinction between agreeableness and extraversion as agreeable personalities were associated with lower self-esteem. Whitley and Gridley (1993) considered low self-esteem as being a potential manifestation of the negative affectivity and emotional instability directly associated with higher levels of Neuroticism.

Over the past decade, Facebook has altered the mechanisms in which we interact with one another and with ourselves and has driven researchers and social scientists to utilize Facebook as a unique tool for observing new behaviors in a natural setting. (Wilson, 2012; González Ramírez, et. al., 2013). This inherently fascinating new sphere of social behavior gives visibility and variable degrees of connection that are not meaningfully observable in direct social circles. One of the most studied Facebook-related phenomena is the relationship of the platform with a user’s self-esteem (Forest & Wood, 2012; Kalpidou, et. al., 2011) and it’s development of new measures of self-worth.

In this regard, there is still no consensus as to whether the use of Facebook impacts users’ self-esteem positively or negatively (Ellison, et. al., 2007; Fernández Lopes, 2015). Some authors have observed Facebook use as having a potentially positive impact on self-esteem (Ellison, et. al., 2007; Joinson, 2003; Cerna Uribima &Plasencia Saldaña, 2012; Pettijohn, et. al., 2012) in that it has assisted individuals with low self-esteem increase their social capital (Ellison, et. al., 2007). Conversely, numerous studies suggest negative aspects within excessive and pathological use of Facebook and associations with lower self-esteem individuals (Caplan, 2002) given the prominence of individuals interested in maintaining a successful appearance on their social platforms, routinely comparing achievements their achievements with others (Arda & Fernández, 2012; Siibak, 2009), and continually craving positive feedback. The self-worth of these users begins to diminish as they regard their achievements as below their expectations or inferior to those of their peers.


The exponential growth of social networking has fundamentally changed our way of communicating with family and friends, perceive our culture, and even how we receive and understand news from different corners of the world. The most acclaimed social networking site, Facebook, used by teenagers, college students, and businesses alike has managed to obtain 2.74 billion users in January 2021[1]. In it, it is possible to create a personal profile or a Fanpage, and interact with other people connected to the site, through the exchange of instant messages, the sharing of content and the famous "likes" in user publications. In addition to performing these functions, it also allows you to participate in groups according to people's interests and needs within the social network. Currently, it is one of the most used forms of connection and is also used to perform quick information searches; in addition to functioning as a kind of contact centralizer. In addition, the United States has a reach of 190 million users, whereas Brazil has 130 million users and Argentina barely 31 million.

Social Support on Facebook

According to a recent study by González Ramírez, et. al. (2013) in Mexico, human relations may be undergoing changes in the way they develop, due to the rapid growth of the technological world in which we are increasingly immersed. Social support is a fundamental activity for development and welfare in society. Information Technology and Communications (ICT), including the Internet, has a growing impact on daily life and occupies a large space in people's lives and daily routines as the Internet serves as the framework their social networks are built upon.

The concept and practice of social networking has evolved alongside new technologies. A new line of research was required to create a psychological theory for explaining the use of networks such as Facebook (González Ramírez, et. al, 2013). A scale was outlined to evaluate perceived social support through respective social networks and the psychometric properties of the instrument. The logical assumption was that those who receive greater social support on social networks would have greater social support in the “real world”. Harfuch, et. al. (2009) found that time spent on virtual social networks is not commensurate with social interaction. Despite this, most participants reported being satisfied with the support they received through their social networks. Arda & Fernandez (2012) consider social networks as important to project appearances of prosperity and welfare and being functionally subordinated to appearance. The primary function of social networks is not to maintain or form connection with others but to display the perfect aspects of one’s life. Siibak’s (2009) study of photos posted by 713 adolescents between 11 and 18 years old in Estonia found the most important factors in selecting a photo to post, for both boys and girls, was to look physically well or be surrounded by beautiful scenery (Siibak, 2009). This study highlighted the importance young people place their aesthetic appeal and the social capital it generates.

Wong’s (2012) study of 202 students from the University of Hong Kong determined that there was a relationship between self-presentation and social support sought and received through Facebook. The investigation determined the self-presentation of “appeal” as the most sought-after characteristic for both searching for, and for receiving social support on Facebook. Students were found to be seeking emotional support, partnership, and a “tangible” fellowship. Types of support were defined by the different methods of engagement on Facebook, such as messages, likes, and comments used to keep in touch with friends and fill social support needs. Additionally, Students could interact with each other online and collaborate searches for information, play games, and coordinate events (Wong, 2012). Despite predicting being perceived as friendly, concerned for others and easy-going as the most common, tangible, informational and emotional support on the platform, students opted to submit their most attractive photos. Students would be “nice” to others and would receive friendship and fellowship through Facebook as a result. Following the theory of satisfaction, gratification obtained through social support would increase the possibility of these students seeking social support when they need it. The study also demonstrated an optimal outcome for students who were satisfied with their received social support and would return to seek it out again on social networks (Wong, 2012).

Nabi, et. al. (2013) examined whether the same psychological and physical health benefits that come from interpersonal social networks might also be offered through the social affiliation opportunities available on platforms like Facebook. They found a positive association between the number of Facebook friends and the amount of perceived social support. Higher measures of perceived social support were then associated with reductions of illness, stress, and higher levels psychological well-being. These results provide support for the buffering effect of Facebook friends and offer unique evidence toward highly stressed individuals receiving health benefits from social networks. Dolan (2012), while focusing on women’s self-disclosures on Facebook and how they functioned in gaining and giving support on the site, indicated expectations from gender roles was a significant contributor in giving and receiving support on the platform. For women, gender role expectations include the performance of behaviors conveying comfort, compassion, and regard. The public format of Facebook helped foster a positive, nurturing environment for women to give and receive support.

Finally, Veliz Martinez (2020) relate both self-esteem and perceived social support in university students who have used social networks (SN). The results indicated that there are partial correlations between both variables, so Feedback (PSSSF) positively correlated with positive self-esteem and negatively correlated with negative self-esteem, private conversations (PSSSF) positively correlated with negative self-esteem and attention and consideration (PSSSF) positively correlated with positive self-esteem and negatively correlated with negative self-esteem. It was concluded that the greater the amount of SN used by the university student, the greater will be their need for perceived social support, possibly due to the need they feel to receive positive feedback from their contacts.

Self-esteem & Facebook

Researchers have recently investigated a number of variables correlated with Facebook-related behaviors which have contributed in understanding the expansion, popularity of, and attachment to Facebook participation. Crucially, psychological elements must be considered as directly intertwined with Facebook use. One element worth investigation is the direct correlation with self-esteem (Larson & Buss, 2009). Self-esteem is traditionally considered to be the manner one chooses to evaluate the concept of who the individual aspires to be (Purkey, 1970). We evaluate who we are in direct relation to the feedback we receive from our social interactions and the diverse social roles we encounter throughout our lives (González-Pienda, et. al., 1997).

Noticeable advancements have been made in self-esteem research with the use of Facebook. Cerna Urbina and Plasencia Saldaña (2012) sought to determine the causes of self-esteem formation in adolescents by considering psychosocial, interpersonal, and socio-affective factors. Due to the relationship between Facebook usage and self-esteem, their research took a correlational design. Their work highlights that of first to fifth year secondary school students, 35% had posted between three and five albums, 22% showed high levels of self-esteem, and 13% showed low self-esteem. 5% of the participants did not have Facebook. In another study of 200 students, Pettijohn, et. al. (2012) found a significant positive relationship between friendship-contingent self-esteem and intensity of Facebook use.

Further research has demonstrated a strong association with Facebook use and lower self-esteem individuals (Ellison, et. al., 2007). Joinson (2003) maintains that many users use the Internet for self-enhancement and self-protection, while others use it to affiliate. Affiliation was shown to provide users pleasure, increased self-esteem, self-knowledge, and social support from the mental stimulation, praise, and opportunities for comparison that are found on the Internet. Ellison, et. al. (2007) found users that were low in self-esteem were able to develop social capital and offered this discovery as additional evidence for the Social Compensation pattern.

Misleading social comparison occurs when one measures themselves to others on who they may or not be and is generally correlated to the abilities or traits developed throughout the course of their lives (Larsen & Buss, 2009). Self-Esteem degrades from the creation of unrealistic expectations when individuals compare themselves to others who they perceive as more fortunate (Larsen & Buss, 2009). However, individuals lower in self-esteem may use social networking tools to amass social relationships, developing their own auto realization and core competencies. When observing both aspects of the use of Facebook, one should analyze the content that a user chooses to express in their status updates. For individuals low in self-esteem, more “likes” were received when promoting positivity than when expressing negativity (Forest & Wood, 2012).

As previously reported from several functional contrastive analysis approaches, Forest & Wood (2012) discovered users with low self-esteem gain social recognition only under explicit circumstances. Self-disclosure brings about encouraging acknowledgements when individuals share positive reports, strongly affecting identity and well-being. Kalpidou, et. al. (2011) considered the potentially unfavorable relationship between self-esteem and the amount of time spent on Facebook. Lower self-esteem individuals’ stronger emotional connections to Facebook and Gonzales and Hancock (2011) found users expressing lower self-esteem after reviewing twelve different profiles. A year prior, these authors tested the effect of Facebook exposure on self-esteem utilizing the social psychology Objective Self-Awareness (OSA) model as well as they Hyper personal communication model. Despite previous OSA subjects experiencing greater self-consciousness after viewing their own Facebook profile, their results showed self-esteem as being reinforced rather than diminished. The participants in the experiment that viewed and updated their profiles were found to report greater self-esteem. This study suggested that selective self-presentation of information in digital media leads to intensifications in training relations as well as in the impressions of oneself. Nadkarni and Hofmann (2012) affirmed that this may determine certain modifications in self-esteem and that social comparison may underlie changes in self-esteem.

As time spent on Facebook increases, people become more prone to compare their social lives against those of the other users on the platform. According to Crocker and Park (2008), this conduct of seeking social exposure may be detrimental to the psychological development of an individual. While the short-term benefits could include increased happiness and decreased anxiety, these acts fail to fulfill needs for learning, applicability, and self-determination. This might also be used to demonstrate that the desire for exposure within these social networks can be addictive. For example, pursuing self-esteem by comparing social lives with the success of others as represented on the platform.

Personality & Facebook

Online social networks have accumulated personal information found in an individual’s environment, images, and social behavior. This accumulation of information can be used in defining personalities within this virtual dimension (Gosling, et. al., 2004). Some Facebook users design their profiles to present a modified image to viewers. This designing process is much the impression management method of ingratiation, where one changes or edits their look, personality, or mannerisms in an attempt to project themselves as more attractive. (Jones & Wortman, 1973).

The dimensions of the five great personality factors known as the Big Five (extraversion, neuroticism, openness, kindness and responsibility) have been studied in relation to the behaviors that users have on online social networks, specifically on Facebook. Andreassen et al. (2013) investigated a number of behavioral addictions in relation to the Five-Factor Model of Personality. Their results found neuroticism and extraversion as positively associated with Facebook addiction. Additionally, mobile phone addiction was positively associated with the trait of extraversion while openness to experience was negatively associated with both Facebook and mobile phone addiction. Agreeableness and conscientiousness had negative associations with Internet and Facebook addictions, respectively.

Additional studies by Amichai-Hamburger and Vinitzky (2010) found a strong link between the FFM and Facebook personalities. Extraversion was associated with greater amounts of friends and group inclusion while neuroticism displayed more personal information and made more use of private messages. Agreeableness was associated with greater photograph posting volume and openness with the use of more features. Conscientious individuals accumulated more friends but shared fewer photos from daily life. Ross (2009) connects relationships between the Big Five personality traits and Facebook motivation use/behaviors as being specifically in service of user-regulated self-presentation. More recently, Andreassen et al., (2013) indicated behavioral addictions as having strong associations with the Big Five personality traits, however, the associations cannot be fully defined and vary due to individual differences producing variations in personalities. Tarazona (2013) found Facebook use tendencies as related to other personality aspects and associated psychological variables such as self-esteem, narcissism, and shyness. These relationships might be considered through the unique control user’s have in varying their self-presentation, allowing them to diminish unpleasant aspects or highlighting those that are pleasant.

When a person’s actions are centrally motivated upon the seeking of approval or admiration from others, Tarzona Luján (2013) sustains that some narcissistic orientation may be driving their behavior. In this context, Facebook becomes a tool for users to submit to the virtual society according to their desired images or expectations and eliminate information that might interfere with desires. In a study of 100 students in New York, both high-scorers in the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI-16) and individuals with low self-esteem were found to use Facebook more times a day and spend greater amounts of time online. Each variable, high NPI-16 scores and low self-esteem measures, were associated with intensive Facebook use (Mehdizadeh, 2010). Conversely, Pettijohn, et. al. (2012) investigated relationships between Facebook use, friendship linked to self-esteem, personality and narcissism and determined that the most active Facebook users were those that connected their self-esteem with the quality of friendly relations. They did not find significant relationships between Facebook use and narcissistic personality. This might suggest the potential relationships between narcissism and Facebook use are better analyzed by investigating behaviors exhibited on the platform rather than just the time spent on Facebook.

Ehrenberg, et. al. (2008) demonstrated that individuals with high levels of Neuroticism preferred online communication to offline communication due to social anxiety associated with neuroticism. Costa and McCrae (1992) consider neuroticism as strongly correlated to emotional instability and continual psychological distress. Ehrenberg, et. al. (2008) present this understanding as an explanation to the greater levels of contemplation and time spent by individuals with high levels of Neuroticism prior to acting on their social network. Grieve (2014) investigated whether Facebook-derived social support could offer greater contributions than offline social support in the prediction of measures of subjective well-being for individuals with varying levels of self-esteem. Measures of subjective well-being and perceived social support were taken from individuals with high and low levels of social anxiety. Wang (2012) found that the thoughtful, affectionate, and sympathetic traits associated with agreeable personalities brought a greater likelihood to post friendly and positive comments on other users’ posts. Moore and McElroy (2012) demonstrated agreeable users as more willing to share content about others than about themselves. Wang et. al. (2012) states that Facebook users with elevated levels of agreeableness may also express their emotional support through self-presentational behaviors on their own.

Gosling, et. al. (2011) connect extraversion with a greater need for socialization and predict that they will demonstrate consistency and regularity in their Facebook usage and its different related activities. Research by Tong, et. al. (2008) examined this phenomenon and found that as extraversion increases, so too does the number of Facebook friends obtain by the user. Gosling, et. al. (2011) considers this behavior as demonstrating an extravert’s need to continuously obtain more social connections. Extraverts seek out more virtual social contacts and are more engaged in online social experience than introverts. Finally, Casado Riera (2017) reached the conclusion that the most extroverted people from Spain tend to use Twitter for informational purposes and Facebook to socialize and that women show a preference for using Facebook that men. Furthermore, people between the ages of 26 and 35 with higher agreeableness scores tend to use FB for professional purposes and neuroticism was only associated with people with primary education, high school and professional training who make social use of Facebook. In other studies related to the relationship between the facets of Neuroticism with behaviours carried out by people on Facebook, Vulnerability was associated with the tendency to browse what others do (Abal, et. al., 2019). Impulsivity correlated with the frequency with which males publish photos and videos and comment on the publications of others. Users who have among their contacts subjects they do not personally know were apt to register higher levels of Depression and Self-consciousness whereas people with high levels of Depression are not strict with privacy control.

Transcendence into Self, Self Esteem and Personality Traits

As self-esteem is built throughout the socialization process of interactions with others, people form an idea about who they are and begin to define their own self-worth. Crocker and Park (2004) consider the intermixing of interests in achieving success or social recognition and this stereotypical view of oneself as promoting certain motivational benefits but could potentially lead to negative emotions. Many authors have become interested in studying self-transcendence. This is a term that has arisen through connecting studies on the self. From theoretical perspectives, transcendence is defined as the recognition of one’s own self that leads to intrapsychic balance, an understanding of ontological universality which motivates the search for psychological maturity (Maslow, 1971), the extent to which a person identifies the self as an integral part of the universe (Cloninger et al., 1993), and an acceptance of the importance of nature, culture, and self as an integrated system.

Reed (2003) more recently defined self-transcendence as the ability to expand the self to intrapersonal levels (awareness of one’s own person), interpersonal (relationships with others and their environment), temporal (integration of past and future in a manner that is sensible to the present), and transpersonal (connecting dimensions typically beyond the perceptible world). Similarly, Tornstam (1997) evaluates transcendence from a developmental perspective and introduces gerotranscendence, which refers to a meta-perspective change from an analytical and materialistic definition of the self toward a more transcendent view. This shift is accompanied by increased levels of satisfaction in the life of an individual and the term involves understanding the transience and temporary nature of elements, relationships, roles, and successes that together contribute a substantive sense of self (Levenson, et. al., 2005). From this lens it has been observed that the ability to detach from external definitions of self and dissolve rigid links between the self and others enables transcendence leading to an increase in self-worth. Levenson, et. al. (2005) onsidered transcendence in relation to the FFM and found that Self-Transcendence was negatively correlated with neuroticism and positively correlated with the other four personality measures.

Conclusion & Discussion

The purpose of this paper was to synthesize existing literature related to the influence that Facebook usage and Social Support on Facebook may have on a user’s self-esteem. We agree that major steps forward have been made toward the analysis of behavior on Facebook and the effective utilization of Facebook as a research tool (Wilson, 2012). However, we found great inconsistency in the quality of research for understanding how Facebook directly impacts self-esteem. The offline-to-online social interactions appear to motivate Facebook users and affect the user’s personality (Vazire & Gosling, 2004). This is statistically manifested in all five of the Big Five personality dimensions of the FFM (Amichai-Hamburger & Vinitzky, 2010). It is also apparent that there is evidence in support of the notion that Facebook use and abuse are linked to personality traits, but that research addressing this salient area is still in its infancy especially in considerations of how Facebook can be used to manipulate appearance. There are a few studies, residing in the concept of Social Support found on social networks and its impact on self-esteem, that should build upon and contribute to further empirical study.

Facebook was designed as a basic communication tool, but it now evidently serves several other purposes. Some use the site to collect social connections (Gosling et al. 2011) and others as a mechanism to decrease anxiety (Crocker & Park, 2008). These new forms of communication and behavior enable new methods of expression throughout the offline and online worlds. While tentative steps forward have been made with this review, Facebook remains a controversial and ongoing source of study and merits continual assessment.

Throughout the writing of this literature review we have realized several relevant opportunities to immediately build from existing research and expand to new avenues of thought in the field of research on Facebook-related behavior. Replicating studies across cultures and socio-economic situations could further identify unique variables and connections resulting from Facebook use and new online behaviors. Further study could contribute in the design of new intervention strategies with middle-school students, for example. Replication and expansion of inquiry utilizing the Five Factor Model might offer clearer insight into the different personality archetypes and how they are manifested in the online world as well as offer potential avenues of intervention for those experiencing deleterious effects on self-worth or self-esteem. Understanding Facebook use may improve the general welfare and continually construct new ways of applying this methodology.

While there is still no specific background for the evaluation of the relationships between Transcendence into Self, Self-Esteem, and Social Support on Facebook, it may be possible that those who experience greater transcendence present less interest in pursuing success on social networks and draw fewer comparisons with the achievements of others on these platforms. In conclusion, contemporary online communication is a relevant source of study and a peculiar, evolving tool. It has the potential to facilitate new paradigm shifts or to be detrimental to our persona and our sense of the self. This review aimed to provide a framework for the future exploration of this research and to encourage the academic and scientific communities to conduct further research as the new era of technology unfolds.


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