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People who post lots of selfies are viewed by others as ‘self-absorbed and less successful’

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Instagrammers who post lots of selfies on social media are seen as ‘self-absorbed and less successful’, study finds

  • Researchers at Washington State University conducted study of 30 undergrads
  • Team evaluated responses and determined what photos elicited negative ratings
  • Selfies with vanity theme, such as flexing in the Angle News, are particularly disliked  

People who take post of selfies on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are viewed as ‘self-absorbed and less successful’ by their peers.

Researchers from Washington State University analysed hundreds of Instagram accounts to find out the first impressions people had of someone’s personality. 

They found an inverse correlation between the volume of a person’s self-portraits and their like-ability – the less selfies they posted, the better they were rated. 

Selfie-takers were also deemed more insecure and less open to new experiences than people who share photographs taken by other people.

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Vanity: Researchers from Washington State University analysed hundreds of Instagram accounts to determine snap judgements on a subject's personality

Vanity: Researchers from Washington State University analysed hundreds of Instagram accounts to determine snap judgements on a subject’s personality

HOW WAS THE DATA GATHERED?

Professor Chris Barry, from Washington State University, analyzed data from two groups of students for the study. 

The first consisted of 30 undergraduates who were asked to complete a personality questionnaire and agreed to let the researchers use their 30 most recent Instagram posts for the experiment.

The posts were coded based on whether they were selfies or posies as well as what was depicted in each image, such as physical appearance, affiliation with others, events, activities or accomplishments.

The second group of students consisted of 119 undergraduates. This group was asked to rate the Instagram profiles of the first group on 13 attributes such as self‑absorption, low self‑esteem, extraversion and success using only the images from those profiles.

Professor Barry’s team then analysed the data to determine if there were visual cues in the first group of students’ photos that elicited consistent personality ratings from the second group.

‘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,’ said Chris Barry, WSU professor of psychology and lead author of the study. 

‘It shows there are certain visual cues, independent of context, that elicit either a positive or negative response on social media.’

Professor Barry, along with WSU psychology students and collaborators from the University of Southern Mississippi, analysed data from two different control groups of students for the study. 

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The first consisted of 30 undergraduates who were asked to complete a personality questionnaire and agreed to let the researchers use their 30 most recent Instagram posts for the experiment. 

The posts were coded based on whether they were selfies or posies as well as what was depicted in each image, such as physical appearance, affiliation with others, events, activities or accomplishments.

The second group consisted of 119 undergraduates. This group was asked to rate the Instagram profiles of the first group on 13 attributes such as self‑absorption, low self‑esteem, extraversion and success using only the images from those profiles.

Professor Barry’s team then analysed the data to see if there were visual cues in the first group of students’ photos that elicited consistent personality ratings from the second group.

Analysis: Professor Chris Barry, Washington State University professor of psychology and lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Research in Personality

Analysis: Professor Chris Barry, Washington State University professor of psychology and lead author of the study, which was published in the Journal of Research in Personality

They found that the students who posted more posies were viewed as being relatively higher in self‑esteem, more adventurous, less lonely, more outgoing, more dependable, more successful and having the potential for being a good friend while the reverse was true for students with a greater number of selfies on their feed.

Personality ratings for selfies with a physical appearance theme, such as flexing in the Angle News, were particularly negative, the researchers found.

Other interesting findings from the study included that students in the first group who were rated by the second group as highly self‑absorbed tended to have more Instagram followers and followed more users.

The researchers also found the older the study participants in the second group were, the more they tended to rate profiles negatively in terms of success, consideration of others, openness to trying new things and likeability. 

‘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,’ Professor Barry said. 

‘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.’

The study was published in Journal of Research in Personality  

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