There has been a lot of talk in the media about selfies. Some psychologists still try to discover the meaning behind them and the personality of people who post them.
One study examined the link between a person’s personality and selfie-posting and photo-editing. The authors of the study wanted to find the answer to the popular question, “Are people who post selfies on social media narcissists, self-objectifying psychopaths, or both?”
In the study, the authors investigated the “dark” side of the personality – Machiavellianism, psychopathy, and narcissism. They call these types of personality “dark” because they are often connected with an evil, calculative, and manipulative way of behavior.
Machiavellianism – a manipulative behavior with little or no regard to other people’s needs. The Machiavellian people have neither morals nor concern about others’ feelings.
Psychopathy – lack of empathy and impulsive behavior. Psychopaths tend to get their revenge by all costs. They are emotionless egoists that have a persistent antisocial behavior and no feelings of remorse or guilt.
Narcissism – Extreme vanity and self-centeredness. Narcissists have a grandiose view of themselves and an immense need for constant admiration and attention.
Self-objectification – a tendency to view one’s body as a sexual object. People who have high levels of self-objectification pride themselves only in terms of their appearance.
For the study’s purposes, Fox and Rooney examined data of 1,000 men aged between 18 and 40. They have completed questionnaires that assessed the “dark” personality types and self-objectification.
The participants were asked how many selfies they had posted on social media in the previous week and how much time they spend looking at pictures on social media sites. Also, they needed to answer how often they used filters to make themselves look better in the pictures.
The study argues that narcissists are willing to go the extra mile to look their best in the picture and they tend to post many selfies to satisfy their innate need for showing off. Psychopaths, on the other hand, are likely to post many selfies but they don’t edit them as much as the narcissists.
Moreover, the authors of the study say that the reason why psychopaths don’t filter so much the photos even though they post a lot of them is due to their lack of self-control. Narcissists, on the other hand, filter the photos, which suggests a person that is obsessed with presenting a ‘perfect’ self-image.
When it comes to self-objectification, the results of the study showed that men who objectify their bodies tend to edit their photos more. Self-objectification is often associated with low self-esteem, and a low self-esteem is directly related to an extensive use of social media.
What’s interesting is that those people who have high levels of self-objectification don’t post many selfies because they are very self-conscious and concerned about their physical appearance.
Another study from Poland, that included both men and women, counted the number of selfies the participant had posted on their Facebook pages. The results showed that women posted more selfies than men.
Finally, before you accuse your selfie-posting friends of being psychopaths and narcissists, bear in mind that the studies are relatively small and even though they may have valid points, you shouldn’t make a generalization for all people.
1. FOX, J., & ROONEY, M. C. (2015). THE DARK TRIAD AND TRAIT SELF-OBJECTIFICATION AS PREDICTORS OF MEN’S USE AND SELF-PRESENTATION BEHAVIORS ON SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES. PERSONALITY & INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES, 76, 161-165. DOI: 10.1016/J.PAID.2014.12.017
2. PAULHUS, D. L., & WILLIAMS, K. M. (2002). THE DARK TRIAD OF PERSONALITY: NARCISSISM, MACHIAVELLIANISM, AND PSYCHOPATHY. JOURNAL OF RESEARCH IN PERSONALITY, 36, 556–563. HTTP://DX.DOI.ORG/10.1016/S0092-6566(02)00505-6.