What did psychologists say about the selfies?

Selfie is a part of a trend of performing on social media. People try to portray the life they want others to see, and they create lots of photographic evidence of themselves being fun and interesting. Selfies are often saying, “I was here,” “I’m attractive,” or “I’m interesting and successful.”


The act of taking a selfie could make people self-conscious and more aware of how others view them. This may occur because the act forces us to focus on ourselves, much like looking in the mirror. When we become self-aware, we also become more sensitive to the extent to which we are living up to social standards and norms. If you’re walking down the street minding your own business and then notice someone on the street corner staring at you, you are likely to become more aware of your appearance and actions and more concerned with how that person is judging you. This awareness of how others might be judging us or reacting to us is called “social sensitivity.” Online audiences can have the same effect on us as offline audiences. Consistent with this idea, studies have shown that posting information about oneself on social media is associated with more social sensitivity.

Selfies are like self-validations “hey, I’m important”. It’s obsessive. Everyone wants to brag how awesome their life is. It’s like a competition. No one wants to feel less important. No wonder, teenage depression is on the rise. 

How it affects our self-esteem?

Human beings have a natural tendency to follow the gaze of others, and we have been coached since birth to follow arrows directing us to where we should be looking/going.

Taking and sharing selfies may also affect self-esteem. Increased self-awareness generally tends to lower self-esteem, suggesting that taking selfies should make us feel worse about ourselves. However, presenting ourselves to others in a desirable manner tends to increase our self-esteem.This suggests that the act of taking a selfie might reduce self-esteem, but the act of sharing it might increase self-esteem.

Researchers wanted to see how both the act of taking a selfie and the act of sharing that selfie with others affected social sensitivity and self-esteem.

Self-esteem was measured by examining the physical size of participants’ signatures. People with lower self-esteem tend to write smaller signatures. So the researchers asked participants to sign their own names with a pen both before and after the experimental manipulation. Any change in the size of the participant’s signature would indicate a change in self-esteem caused by the photo-taking and/or sharing.

The researchers also found that participants in the selfie condition who merely saved their photo showed a larger reduction in self-esteem from the start of the experiment, as compared to those who shared their selfies on social media. This suggests that the act of taking a selfie can make us feel worse about ourselves, due to the increased focus on the self. However, sharing it with others largely improve this effect. Perhaps this is due to the expectation that others will like and approve of the selfie. The effects in this study might have been even larger if participants also received feedback on social media, such as Facebook likes. On the other hand, a lack of positive feedback could send self-esteem plummeting further.

Why people posting explicit images of themselves on social media?

Only people who rely solely on other people’s opinion of them for ‘validation’ would do this, and they’ll use any ‘hook’ designed to incite a positive response, inciting positive sexual reactions a method known to ‘work’, especially for males is just one tactic.

The more pictures you post of yourself promoting a certain identity buff, sexy, adventurous, studious, funny, daring, etc. the more likely it is that others will endorse this identity of you.

There are many other methods, such as ‘declarations of value’ saying how much ‘better’ one is than ‘others’, or insinuating the same though tone or grammar, in any case, those who do this will continue until they (a) the negative response outweighs the positive response, (b) that tactic doesn’t ‘work’ anymore no response, or (c) until they get a sense of, or ability to judge, their own self-worth.

Facebook became not just a social network but a means of proving one’s social reach. Posed group photographs, tagged pictures and friend counts were signifiers of social net worth, and a sign of healthy participation in the digital world. As Facebook rose to prominence, so did its model of what it meant to interact online. The subject of MySpace bathroom selfie with its tableaux of bathroom counter mirror, face, and upper body always looked alone. Selfies were for people without friends, the savvy moved on to more advanced networks.

New Software has also contributed to the selfie renaissance. For teenage social media users, who generally prefer on-the-go mobile application, like Instagram and Snapchat, the self is the message and the selfie is the medium.

 The psychology of selfie

People seek attention and don’t get enough from their real life, it’s caused by a doubt in self-value. Just like other animals, humans also equate size with dominance and submission.

If you hold your camera straight out, you’ll take a selfie that accurately represents what you really look like. But what if you hold the camera above or below face level? When you take a selfie from above, you make the face and eyes look larger, so you appear shorter and younger. And if you photograph yourself from below, you emphasize your jaw, making yourself look taller and more dominant. People would manipulate camera angle when taking selfies as an impression management strategy. 


Two processes are at play, intersexual attraction, and intrasexual competition.  Intersexual attraction refers to the set of strategies that people use to arouse the interest of members of the opposite sex. In intrasexual competition with each other as they vie for the ladies’ attention.

Women are attracted to men who dominate other men, but they also expect those same men to be supportive toward their spouses. Likewise, women rely more on social influence than physical size or strength to establish their position in the pecking order.

People will manipulate the camera angle of their selfies depending on their intended audience. In one study, they examined self-portraits posted by men and women on internet dating and professional networking sites. In this case, the internet dating sites were viewed as contexts for intersexual attraction, and the professional network sites as contexts for intrasexual competition.

Specifically, they made the following predictions:

  • Men will take selfies from below when their audience is other men (to show dominance).
  • Men will take selfies straight on when their audience is women (to show supportiveness).
  • Women will take selfies from above when their audience is men (to show submission).
  • Women will take selfies straight on when their audience is other women (to show supportiveness).

So, people really do manipulate the camera angle of selfies to create an impression of dominance or submission. But are other people actually influenced by camera angle? To explore this question, the researchers took pictures of men and women, each from all three camera angles above, straight on, and below.

Another set of participants then viewed these photos and rated them on a number of characteristics related to dominance and submission. They also rated the attractiveness and other physical characteristics of the person in each photo. As predicted, the men were perceived as taller and rated as more dominant and attractive when the camera angle was from below. And conversely, the women were perceived as younger and rated as more submissive and attractive when the camera angle was from above.

These results show that people really do manipulate their perceived height to indicate dominance or submission. Furthermore, people actually are influenced by these attempts at impression management. But what’s the take-home message?

Why lonely personalities has the addiction of selfie?

Those who constantly take pictures of themselves are more likely to be lonely, scientists warn. However, they are also more likely to be vain and attention-seeking too.Constant self-snappers are also more likely to be vain and attention-seeking too, a study revealed. 

Researchers in Thailand assessed the personal habits of 300 students and looked at how often they took pictures of themselves. The participants, mostly females aged between 21 and 24, were interviewed to see if they had narcissism, attention-seeking, self-centered behavior or loneliness personality traits.

A vast majority spent more than 50 percent of their spare time on either their mobile phone or scouring the internet, they found. Concerning the relationship between selfie-liking and the control variables, the analysis showed that selfie-liking was positively associated with the intensity of social media us.

Experts believe both men and women who have lonely personalities tend to take more selfies for approval from other people. Individuals with higher degrees of loneliness tend to report selfie-liking to a greater extent.

The lead researcher said, ‘Not only do individuals who become obsessed with taking selfies tend to feel that their personal lives and psychological well-being are damaged, but they may feel that relationship qualities with others are also impaired.
‘Taking selfies allows individuals to control what other people see in the photos, it is not surprising that those who exhibit these narcissistic characteristics tend to like selfies because it helps them achieve this personal goal.

While many people consider taking selfies to be an enjoyable activity, those who take selfies need to concern themselves with the unhealthy behaviors that might be associated with this activity as well. Some experts have argued that selfie-taking behavior can be linked to mental illness.

However, psychologists suggest that it is not an addiction but a symptom of body dysmorphic disorder a form of anxiety.This could be the reason why individuals who like to take selfies tend to focus too much on themselves and express less concern about others.

Caution for both men and women

Here’s the advice for men: If you’re trying to impress other men in a professional context, take your selfies from below. This will signal your dominance. But if you’re trying to impress women in a romantic context, take your selfies straight on. This will show your supportiveness.

And here’s the advice for women: If you’re trying to impress other women in a professional context, take your selfies straight on. This will demonstrate your social intelligence. But if you’re trying to impress men in a romantic context, take your selfies from above. This will make you look younger and more attractive.

Despite our modern beliefs about gender equality, the dynamics of intersexual attraction and intrasexual competition are still deeply ingrained within us. However, this doesn’t mean we’re powerless pawns of our evolutionary past. Rather, it means that if we understand how these dynamics work, we gain power over them and can wield them to our own advantage. 



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