Researchers at Washington State University tested the theory that people who post many selfies, shots of themselves taken by holding a cellphone, to social media sites like Facebook and Instagram, lead others to think of them negatively, assigning traits like narcissistic and having low self esteem.
To test the premise, the researchers gathered college students in the Northwest and showed them social media posts of thirty college students in the South, with some of them having many selfie posts while others had many posed photographs, where the subject isn’t taking the picture, but is aware that the picture is being taken.
Using just the photographs, the students in the Northwest were asked to judge those in the South on attributes such as self absorption, self esteem, success, and extraversion.
Their findings, published in the Journal of Research in Personality, showed that the students posting selfies were consistently viewed more negatively.
Chris Barry, WSU professor of psychology and lead author of 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. It shows there are certain visual cues, independent of context, that elicit either a positive or negative response on social media.”
None of this is particularly surprising. It could be simply that people posting selfies appear to be self-promoting and alone, while those in posed photographs are obviously in a group because someone else snapped the picture.