A recent study surveying the online photo posting habits of 800 men (ages 18 to 40) found those who posted more images of themselves measured higher for narcissism and/or psychopathy.
The project comes out of Ohio State University where Jesse Fox is an Assistant Professor of Communication. She also led the study, which was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. In the study, her research team found that men who took time editing their pictures before posting them online tended to score higher for narcissism and self-objectification, meaning they measured their value through appearance. She spoke with Jeff Grabmeier, a journalist for the university's online paper:
“It’s not surprising that men who post a lot of selfies and spend more time editing them are more narcissistic, but this is the first time it has actually been confirmed in a study.”
“The more interesting finding is that they also score higher on this other anti-social personality trait, psychopathy, and are more prone to self-objectification.”
However, Fox found that men who posted lots of photos of themselves and didn't edit their images rated higher for psychopathy.
“That makes sense because psychopathy is characterized by impulsivity. They are going to snap the photos and put them online right away. They want to see themselves. They don’t want to spend time editing.”
If you happen to know a guy who posts a lot of selfies, it doesn't necessarily mean he's a psycho-killer—just someone with mild anti-social behavior. Fox emphasizes that these men all scored within the normal range of behavior, but with higher levels of narcissism and/or psychopathy. However, in talking with Grabmeier, she shows concern over what social networks are doing to men's self-esteem. As more of us join in and feel obligated to share photos of ourselves, we become overly concerned with our appearance.
“We know that self-objectification leads to a lot of terrible things, like depression and eating disorders in women.”
It's only within the last few decades that people have felt the need to construct a digital persona, complete with avatars and personal stats to outline who we are. It begs the question if online social networks bring out these personality traits and behaviors within us or if social networking is heightening these traits. Fox believes that her own study and others show that our personalities influence how we present ourselves online. So, for those self-objectifying personalities these social site may be reinforcing their tenancies, posting photos to gain confirmation of their value.
“It may make people objectify themselves even more. We are running a study on that now.”
Read more at Ohio State University
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