Aside from the meandering group text (that lasts longer than winter at The Wall) before you and five of your friends get together for dinner, there’s no social interaction more tedious than taking selfies. It’s an exhausting way to prove to others that you went out, had a good time, and, by god, people really do like you. But those of us who are selfie-averse apparently just don’t get it — a new study reveals that while outsiders may consider egregious selftographers to be narcissistic, the people taking the selfies just think they’re way more attractive and cooler than they really are. #instaconfidence
Psy Post reports that the study, which was published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, found that those people who like taking selfies truly believe that the pictures they take (and then post post post) make them appear more attractive to others. In fact, when asked how independent raters — people who do not know the selfie-takers and have no vested interest in whether the milkshake they’re drinking is truly “epic” — might rate them, those people who took selfies on a consistent basis were very confident that they’d be perceived as awesome.
Which, spoiler alert, wasn’t the case. The study included 100 participants who loved selfies and 98 who didn’t take them on the regular. Both groups were asked to take photos of themselves (and have one taken by someone involved with the experiment) and then rate their perceived likability. Then the pictures were rated by others. A whole lotta self-favoring bias was quickly revealed.
Both groups, the habitual selfie-takers and non-selfie-takers, showed self-favoring bias by thinking that they would be seen as more attractive and more likeable in their photos than they were actually seen by the independent raters. However, the selfie-takers overestimated themselves significantly more, especially when judging their selfies rather than the experimenter-taken photos. In reality, both groups’ selfies were rated as less attractive than the experimenter-taken photos by the independent raters. They also thought the selfie-takers looked significantly more narcissistic than the non-selfie-takers on the basis of their selfies.
Couple this with the study that suggests that men who take selfies have psychopathic tendencies, and you might just decide to put the phone away.
The question, of course, is whether Instagram breeds narcissism or whether it just highlights those who have narcissistic tendencies. That might not be answered for a while, but the study also raises another important question: Is the problem with those taking the selfies or those rating them? According to Psy Post, independent raters tended to dislike practiced selfie shots more than unpracticed ones, so there may be some merit in researching whether people who know their best angles are truly narcissistic or whether others just want to bring them down.
It’s also important to mention that the research suggests that being a selfie-master can cause problems in the long run. That’s because people may fall more and more prey to self-favoring bias, which may lead to ego distortion. Tying your perception of self to how many hearts you get per photo is a dangerous game, and it’s hard not to think about the inevitable crash when the likes stop coming in by the boatload.