All those selfies are making you look insecure, study says
If you want to be truly liked on social media, hold off on posting another selfie.
That’s the message from researchers in the U.S. who concluded that Instagram users who post a lot of selfies are “almost uniformly” perceived as less likeable and more insecure, compared to Instagrammers who share posed photos taken by someone else.
The research, published this week in the Journal of Research in Personality, analyzed hundreds of Instagram posts to determine which ones generated snap judgments about a user’s personality.
The study found that those who posted more posed photos of themselves taken by others (referred to as “posies”) were viewed as being “relatively higher in self-esteem, more adventurous, less lonely, more outgoing, more dependable, more successful and having the potential for being a good friend.”
The reverse was true for Instagram users who posted a greater number of selfies, the study said.
"Even when two feeds had similar content, such as depictions of achievement or travel, feelings about the person who posted selfies were negative and feelings about the person who posted posies were positive," Chris Barry, a psychology professor at Washington State University (WSU) and lead author of the study, said in a news release.
Barry worked with WSU psychology students and researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi to analyze Instagram posts and personality questionnaires from two groups of students.
The first group consisted of 30 students from a university in southern U.S. who let researchers analyze the last 30 posts on their Instagram feeds. The second group of 119 students from a university in northwestern U.S. was asked to rate the Instagram profiles of the first group based on more than a dozen attributes, including self-absorption, self-esteem and success.
Those who posted more selfies were rated more negatively than those whose feeds included more “posies.”
The researchers say that while there’s no evidence that posting a lot of selfies is tied to low self- esteem or having a narcissistic personality, how those social media users are perceived by others is an entirely different story.
“While the findings of this study are just a small piece of the puzzle, they may be important to keep in mind before you make that next post,” Berry said.
In late 2017, researchers in India explored the idea of “selfitis” – an obsession with taking the perfect selfie. The story about “selfitis” being classified as a real mental health disorder was initially a hoax that spread online years earlier, but the researchers found that there is a real impact on social media users who spend a great deal of time taking and editing selfies, and tracking the attention they get.