In recent years, the prevalence of “selfies”—pictures a person takes of oneself—has all but exploded alongside the ever-increasing popularity of social media.
Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are rife with selfies posted by a variety of people. But what factors make a person likely to engage in this behavior? A recent study published in Computers in Human Behavior aimed to answer this question.
“Besides their skyrocketing incidence, selfies have received mounting attention from researchers and practitioners in psychology and communication as they represent image-based self-presentation on (social media),” said Eunice Kim, corresponding author of the study.
Scientists analyzed 89 Instagram users who reported having experience with posting selfies on Instagram. Participants answered questions designed to measure their attitude toward posting selfies, as well as other factors such as personality traits and their perceived control over the behavior.
Results showed that several factors were correlated with the likelihood of posting selfies. First, perceived attitude toward selfies was an accurate predictor of the prevalence of posting them. In other words, those who have a positive attitude toward selfies were more likely to intend to post them.
Subjective norm was also highly correlated with the likelihood of posting selfies, meaning those who perceived posting selfies as a popular and common behavior were more likely to engage in it themselves.
Narcissism was also (perhaps unsurprisingly) highly correlated with the likelihood of taking and posting selfies on Instagram.
“For narcissists, their primary use of SNSs may be associated with a range of strategic behaviors aimed at maintaining their embellished egos, such as attention-seeking,” said Kim.
The data answer many questions about a new and budding phenomenon, but they also raise questions for future research.
“Posting selfies on (social media) is a unique act of self-presentation and impression management in digital environments that is driven by attitudinal, social, and personality factors,” said Kim.
“More research is warranted for our enhanced understanding of this interesting phenomenon,” Kim added.