Why It Is Wise To Curb Excessively Posting Selfies On Social Media

A recent study conducted by Swansea University and Milan University,  published in The Open Psychology Journal has found that posting of selfies on social media is linked to an increase in narcissism bordering on mental illness.

The researchers studied personality changes in a sample of 74 people aged 18 to 34 h over a period of four months, while interacting with social media such as – Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Those who used social media primarily through visual postings showed a 25% increase in narcissistic traits over the four-month period.

According to the measurement scale, the increase took many of the participants above the clinical cut-off for NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

Phil Reed, professor at the Department of Psychology at Swansea University stated:

“There have been suggestions of links between narcissism and the use of visual postings on social media, such as Facebook, but, until this study, it was not known if narcissists use this form of social media more, or whether using such platforms is associated with the subsequent growth in narcissism.

The results of this study suggest that both occur, but show that posting selfies can increase narcissism.

Taking our sample as representative of the population, which there is no reason to doubt, this means that about 20% of people may be at risk of developing such narcissistic traits associated with their excessive visual social media use.

That the predominant usage of social media for the participants was visual, mainly through Facebook, suggests the growth of this personality problem could be seen increasingly more often, unless we recognize the dangers in this form of communication.”

Milan University, Professor Roberto Truzolli added:

“The use of visual social media may emphasize the perception of narcissistic individuals that they are the main focus of attention.

The lack of immediate ‘direct’ social censure, may offer them the opportunity to inflict aspects of their narcissistic personality, present themselves in a grandiose manner, and realize fantasies of omnipotence.”

Another study led by Fox, J., and Rooney, (M.C., School of Communication, The Ohio State University) surveying a large sample of U.S. men aged 19 to 40 found an increase in narcissism and psychopathy in those who posted more selfies on social media sites.

Researchers used the Dark Triad as a measurement tool for the subjects of study.

The Dark Triad consists of three malevolent personality traits:

  • Narcissism: characterized by grandiosity, pride, egotism, and a lack of empathy.
  • Machiavellianism: characterized by manipulation and exploitation of others, a cynical disregard for morality, and a focus on self-interest and deception.
  • Psychopathy: characterized by continuing antisocial behavior, impulsivity, selfishness, callousness, and remorselessness.

In their final analysis, the researchers concluded the following:

“Men who self-objectify spent more time on SNSs (Social Networking Sites) than those lower in self-objectification…more narcissistic individuals reported spending more time on SNSs. Those higher in narcissism and psychopathy reported posting selfies more frequently. Narcissists and individuals high in self-objectification more frequently edited photos of themselves that they posted on SNS. Those high on Dark Triad traits may employ SNSs to execute “cheater strategies” to help them achieve their interpersonal and social goals despite their antisocial personality traits.”

Even though the subjects in this study were all male, based on previous studies, the researchers have found that women exhibit less Dark Triad traits than males at the expense of higher self-objectification.

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