Study: Selfies are perceived far more negatively than ‘posies’
In a new study, people who posted a lot of selfies were generally viewed as less likeable and more lonely.
- A new study examined how people perceive others' Instagram accounts, and whether those perceptions match up with how the posters rate their own personalities.
- The results show that people react far more positively to "posies," which are photos of the poster taken by another person.
- Still, it remains unclear exactly why people view selfies relatively negatively.
When checking out someone's photos on social media, what are the factors that determine how you perceive that person? One major factor, according to new research, is who's holding the camera.
In a new study published in the Journal of Research in Personality, psychologists found that people who post selfies are far more likely to be perceived negatively than people who post "posies" – photos of the poster taken by another person.
The researchers asked 30 undergraduates to fill out a personality questionnaire and for permission to use 30 of their Instagram photos for an experiment. These 30 Instagram posts were coded based on theme – such as physical appearance, affiliation with others, and accomplishment – and stripped of captions and other text.
Then, the researchers asked a second group of undergraduates to rate the Instagram profiles for 13 attributes, such as self-absorption, self-esteem, loneliness, and successfulness. The results showed that Instagram users who posted more posies than selfies were rated "higher in self-esteem, more adventurous, less lonely, more outgoing, more dependable, relatively fond of trying new things, more successful, more likeable, and as potentially being a good friend," the researchers wrote.
In contrast, users who posted relatively more selfies were rated as "having lower self-esteem, disliking adventure, more lonely, less outgoing, disliking trying new things, less successful, and less likeable."
"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, Washington State University professor of psychology and lead author of the study, told WSU News. "It shows there are certain visual cues, independent of context, that elicit either a positive or negative response on social media."
Interestingly, the results showed that posting selfies wasn't associated with self-reported narcissism, but posting posies was. Also, having many followers and following many people was associated with narcissism. But in general, the Instagram users' self-reported personality traits didn't match up strongly with how others judged them.
What's the value in studying social media posts? The researchers wrote, "it may be that social media posts are more relevant for understanding how a person is perceived by others than for what they convey about the person's personality."
Still, it remains unclear exactly why people react negatively to selfies and positively to posies. The researchers suggested it might be because posies look more natural, similar to how you'd view someone in person. Also, because selfies were relatively rare among the Instagram profiles, seeing one might signal something potentially strange about the poster.
One interesting area for future research would be to examine whether people react similarly negatively to selfies posted by celebrities. Would they also be seen as lonely and less likable? Or would people perceive them differently because they wield a high level of prestige in society?
"While there may be a variety of motives behind why people post self‑images to Instagram, how those photos are perceived appears to follow a more consistent pattern," Barry told WSU News. "While the findings of this study are just a small piece of the puzzle, they may be important to keep in mind before you make that next post."
Who is to blame for the U.S.'s dismal college graduation rate? "Radical" educator Dennis Littky has a hunch.
- COVID-19 has magnified the challenges that underserved communities face with regard to higher education, such as widening social inequality and sky-high tuition.
- At College Unbound, where I am president, we get to know students individually to understand what motivates them, so they can build a curriculum based on goals they want to achieve.
- My teaching mantra: Everything is permitted during COVID-19. Everything is permitted during COVID-19. Everything is permitted during COVID-19.
Meteorologists propose a stunning new explanation for the mysterious events in the Bermuda Triangle.
One of life's great mysteries, the Bermuda Triangle might have finally found an explanation. This strange region, that lies in the North Atlantic Ocean between Bermuda, Miami and San Juan, Puerto Rico, has been the presumed cause of dozens and dozens of mind-boggling disappearances of ships and planes.
The planet that we are searching for is a little bit smaller and closer than we originally thought.
- Years ago, California Institute of Technology professor Konstantin Batygin was inspired to embark on a journey of discovering what lurked beyond Neptune. What he and his collaborator discovered was a strange field of debris.
- This field of debris exhibited a clustering of orbits, and something was keeping these orbits confined. The only plausible source would be the gravitational pull of an extra planet—Planet Nine.
- While Planet Nine hasn't been found directly, the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. And Batygin is confident we'll return to a nine-planet solar system within the next decade.
Inbreeding leads to a problematically small gene pool.