If you’re a frequent taker of images of yourself — “selfies” — you may not click “like” on this story.
Scientists at Washington State University have taken a closer look at the kinds of images we share of ourselves in an effort to determine whether certain types of photographs elicit a particular reaction from those who view them on social media. The study appears in the Journal of Research in Personality, and, yes, it’s actually titled “Check Your Selfie Before You Wreck Your Selfie.” The Seattle Times wrote about the work Friday.
The research around hundreds of actual Instagram users looked at the differences associated with selfies vs. “posies.” It found that those who post a lot of selfies are almost uniformly viewed as less likeable, less successful, more insecure and less open to new experiences than individuals who share a greater number of posed photos taken by someone else.
“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, WSU professor of psychology and lead author of the study, said in a WSU Insider story. “It shows there are certain visual cues, independent of context, that elicit either a positive or negative response on social media.”
Don’t tell Ellen DeGeneres, who got 2.3 million likes for this iconic selfie five years ago …
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) March 3, 2014
Barry and WSU psychology students collaborated with a team from the University of Southern Mississippi and analyzed data from two groups of students. Thirty undergrads at the Mississippi school were asked to complete a personality questionnaire and agreed to let researchers use their 30 most recent Instagram posts for the experiment.
The images were shown to a group of 119 WSU undergraduates who were asked to rate the Instagram profiles of the first group on 13 attributes such as self‑absorption, low self‑esteem, extraversion and success using only the images from those profiles.
According to WSU Insider, Barry and his team analyzed the data to determine whether visual clues in selfies and posies affected personality ratings assigned by the second group. Those who posted more 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 study did find that students in the first group who were rated by the second group as highly self‑absorbed tended to have more Instagram followers and followed more users.