A curious investigation discovers the link between our way of being and self-portraits.
It is not the first time that we talk about selfies on our website, since this phenomenon is very fashionable. The technological changes of the last decades, the culture of the image and the spectacle in which we live immersed and the emergence of networks such as facebook or instagram have allowed us to take self-photos at any time and publish them in digital media as soon as possible possible.
On television, in the newspapers or on the radio there is constant news about selfies, and several questions and answers have been raised about the obsessive behavior of some people , often without foundation. And although these information are often not true, it is not surprising that there is an interest from psychology to learn more about this type of behavior.
In fact, a recent study claims that selfies say a lot about our personality.
Is there a relationship between taking selfies and having a mental disorder?
First of all, it is necessary to clarify that the habit of taking selfies is not a mental disorder, therefore there is no scientific evidence to affirm it. However, there are certain emotional problems or psychological disorders that can be associated with the excessive use of selfies. For example, low self-esteem, body dysmorphic disorder, narcissism or perfectionist personality.
A narcissistic person may take a lot of selfies and post them on social media in search of constant approval. We all know a friend who likes to constantly look in the mirror, and selfies are a quick way to get approval on social media and to constantly expose their image. A narcissist can take selfie behavior to the extreme, to pathological limits.
It could also happen that a perfectionist or person with body dysmorphic disorder takes many self-photos and repeats them constantly because they do not look good in any of them. Perfectionists have an obsession with achieving perfection in everything they do, and people with body dysmorphic disorder are never happy with their physical appearance. This can cause them to spend hours taking photos until they achieve that excellent and flawless image of themselves, even if it is unreal.
What is the fashion of selfies due to?
But as I have already said, taking selfies does not have to be a serious problem, since it is just another phenomenon associated with new information technologies and image culture. Here both the advancement of new technologies come together, for example the possibility of having a camera on the smartphone, the emergence of social networks and the possibility of being connected all day and aware of the lives of others. The values of this society also play an important role, which rewards elements such as aesthetics or entertainment.
These changes that have occurred in recent decades have changed the way we relate to each other, because when adding these factors we are faced with a phenomenon that leads us to the need to relate and to project a good image of ourselves through social networks. That is why it is important that we know how to use this technology responsibly; since if we don’t we can be on the verge of having problems of obsession or communication with other people: the real communication is in the street, in looking the interlocutor in the eyes.
That said, we cannot deny that when someone has a deeper problem, for example a body image disorder, excessive use of selfies and social networks can indicate that something is wrong with that person.
Selfitis does not exist: a lie that went viral
Selfitis, that is, the pathological obsession with taking selfies, and which some media claimed was recognized by the American Psychological Association (APA), does not really exist: it is an invented disorder, without scientific basis. It was a lie that went viral online, and taking selfies may mean absolutely nothing from a clinical point of view.
What happens is that selfies are posted on social networks, and the latter are important in the formation of the identity of the youngest. So you have to be careful how these behaviors affect adolescents, because this is a critical period in their development. Not taking it into account can have negative effects on your future psychological well-being. In extreme cases, selfies can be an indicator of emotional problems or body image disorders, for example, if people are constantly uploading images of themselves to Facebook or if they are taking self-photos all day without stopping.
Parents and schools must be aware of the importance of educating their children in the correct use of social networks
So it is important that parents (and also schools) care about educating their children to use new technologies correctly, because otherwise Western culture can cause emotional or self-esteem problems.
But let’s not dramatize either: that someone occasionally takes a selfie is not a bad thing, it is simply one more phenomenon, which comes from the immersion that we have all done in new technologies.
The best prevention is education
To prevent future emotional problems in young people and for them to develop a resistant personality that allows them to empower themselves in the face of life and value themselves as they are without the need to constantly be showing a digital image that can be harmful to them, the key is education.
We have already spoken about disorders associated with new technologies on other occasions from Psychology and Mind, for example, in our articles on the FOMO Syndrome or Nomophobia. And we have already warned of the importance of re-educating the youngest in a society that turns us into objects and that can lead to serious problems of self-esteem if we do not reconnect with ourselves. That is, if we do not become conscious and emotionally intelligent people again.
It is necessary to educate correctly in the use of new technologies, because they are an important part of the lives of the youngest. Through social networks, children and adolescents relate, compare and form their identity.
The world 2.0 transmits values
World 2.0 can be a fictitious but very appealing world, and social networks are attractive because the youngest become protagonists.
Thanks to selfies they can be a kind of “star” in their little world of show business. Therefore, it must be known that, as socializing agents that they are, social networks also transmit values. Parents and teachers need to make youngsters understand the positive and negative consequences of their use.
The contribution of psychology to the use of social networks
For cases in which a person takes selfies compulsively and there really is an underlying disorder, from psychology we propose certain treatments that can help the person to identify the problem and be able to solve it.
These cases are often characterized by poor self-esteem, a deficit in social skills and a constant need for approval from others. Fortunately, psychologists can treat these cases and solve them.
Personality and selfies: Narcissistic and antisocial people make more use of self-photos
Recent research has focused on finding a relationship between personality and self-photos, and it seems that certain personality types are more likely to take selfies, at least that is what a study carried out by the Ohio State University (United States Unidos) which concludes that the individuals who post more self-photos on their social networks have narcissistic and antisocial traits.
On the other hand, according to research by the Nanyang Technological University of Singapour and published in Computers in Human Behavior , the way of taking a selfie can express the personality traits of a person, for example, if they are more or less outgoing, responsible or nice. This study concludes that:
Compassionate, cooperative and kind people appear smiling and cheerful in their self-photos.
Kind people take selfies from below.
Not revealing the location of the photo may indicate that the person is concerned about their privacy.
“Putting on snouts” is typical of insecure, anxious and jealous people.
The more open the photo, the more emotional positivity
To know if they are true and to be more confident about the results of this research, scientists will have to conduct other studies to confirm these conclusions. What is clear is that science is beginning to look at this phenomenon.