Be careful with those selfies, very careful

Selfies can be a dangerous business. Google “selfie fails” for a good laugh or ten.

Now it turns out, selfies can also be way more revealing than you ever realized or intended — and misinterpreted.

Research coming out soon from psychologists at Washington State University and collaborators at the University of Southern Mississippi explores perceptions of photos posted online, namely selfies on Instagram.

Their findings might give pause to frequent selfie-posters.

They had 30 volunteer students in Mississippi complete personality profiles and submit their 30 most recent Instagram posts, devoid of any hashtags, identification or captions.

The 900 posts were then shown to 119 Washington State students who were asked to rate the photo collections in a variety of areas, including the subject’s self-absorption, likability, self-esteem and dependability.

With virtual unanimity, those people who posted the most selfies were viewed as being less dependable, less successful, more lonely and possessing lower self-esteem than who those who posted photos taken with others.

This held true even when posters used a timer and stepped back to give the appearance someone else took the photo. Those disguised selfies were seen more positively than obvious selfies, revealing the impressions were in the eyes of the beholder.

Chris Barry, the lead researcher from Washington, 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.

But wait, that’s not all. Christine Clarridge, a clever reporter for the Seattle Times, then interviewed others, including Lisa Levine, a life coach.

Levine admitted that she too gets hooked at times, the dopamine high from getting attention on social media being genuine but in reality actually meaningless.

She told Clarridge:

I have to remind myself, and not infrequently, that those likes don’t really mean anything. It can take over in a way that’s not healthy.  The counterbalance is to not care, put down your phone and walk away.

All very true. But before you do that, Like this item, then take a selfie reading it and post the photo here.

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David Strom 12:31 PM on December 07, 2022