The Culture of Selfies

We live in a world where your appearance dictates your life; it can get you a job, it can secure your relationship, it can open a world of endless possibilities. The creation of social media platforms such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, have allowed individuals to showcase their life and themselves as whatever they want to be. Imagine not being able to secure a job because the company owner saw your Instagram and did not like your posts. Since your Instagram page was filled with selfies of yourself, he determined that you were not suitable for the job because your world revolved around yourself. The owner also saw the number of followers you had and decided you weren’t as social as he liked. As stated by Bradley, Roberts and Bradley, individuals with more followers and “likes” were seen as more likeable (2019). The world we live in today allows you to draw conclusions on a person like their personality type and character before you even meet them. The primary purpose of our study is to examine the relationship between number of selfies posted and participant judgment response.

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To examine the judgment of selfies, we must first discuss why people post. There are 7.7 billion people on earth and 93 million selfies are taken each day (2016). The 4 driving forces of posting a selfie as found by Sung, Lee, Kim and Choi, include: attention seeking, communication, archiving, and entertainment (2016). Validation amongst peers and the public is a staple of attention seeking and communication. Users may post themselves in a particular fashion which allows others to “like”, “share”, and “comment”. Capturing occasions and posting them indicate the individuals needs for an archive. Lastly, posting may be a method to reduce boredom. According to Sung et al., Narcissists “tend to hold inflated positive self-views, especially of their physical appearance, social popularity, and status”. Results demonstrated the relationship with selfie posting and narcissism were positive. Narcissism also predicted the frequency of posts.

Negative judgement about those who post excessive selfies may come to light when examining the effect of selfies on judgement. Taylor, Hinck, and Lim (2017), discovered that people are more likely to view selfie posters on Facebook as narcissists as opposed to those who post without a selfie. If an individual were to post a message on Facebook with an attached selfie, they are more likely to be judged harshly; which in turn, affects the attractiveness rating of the photo. This study also took into account the gender of the poster; results demonstrated that female profiles were more narcissistic than male posters.

Gender is critical when defining the behavior behind selfie posting. As studied by Kramer, Feuerstein, Kluck, Meir, Rother and Winter (2017), male social network users, post as a means of information whereas women use social networks to represent themselves in a number of ways. Other differences between gender include emotionality in posts, impression and posting rate. They also noted that females on average, take more selfies than the male population. The type of photo an individual takes and shares can change a viewer’s perception of them. Kramer et al., stated selfies were seen more negatively than photos that were taken by others and/or including other people. The type of picture posted affects the manner in which an impression is formed. Posting group photos can showcase a personality based on extraversion, while a person posting a selfie is seen as an introvert, neurotic or conscientious. Those who post more often may use social network sites as a way of keeping friends and family updated. Posting behavior can be attributed to an individual’s personality traits; introverts post less often than extraverts.

We must ask the question if narcissists take more selfies over time which feed into their self-views or if taking selfies increase narcissistic characteristics within individuals. A panel analysis conducted by Halpern, Valenzuela and Katz proposed this question and found that both hypotheses were correct; narcissists do take more photos over time which increase their level of narcissistic behavior (2017). Narcissists need a social response; they prefer to feel superior and have a need for attention. Social network sites offer consistent reinforcement by allowing multiple likes, a plethora of followers and instant gratification through comments.

To understand the reasoning behind selfies and narcissism, we devised a research study which questioned the characteristics of one individual based on the pictures they posted online. We predict that if participants are exposed to selfie photos, then they will believe that an Instagram user 1). updates her profile picture more frequently, 2). posts to her social media accounts more often, and 3). seems more self-absorbed, selfish, narcissistic, and egotistical, compared to participants exposed to either groupie or professional photos, though these latter two conditions should not differ from each other in their Instagram user ratings.

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The Culture Of Selfies. (2021, Mar 26). Retrieved December 6, 2022 , from

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