A recent study says that viewing selfies of others leads to significantly lower self-esteem and life satisfaction.
Penn State University surveyed 275 online participants through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing Internet marketplace, and found that frequent selfie viewing, otherwise known as “lurking”, has a direct relation to a person’s psychological well-being.
Those with a low need for popularity experienced lowered self-esteem and life satisfaction. Meanwhile others with a high need for popularity, had higher levels of self-esteem. The study explains this is because people with a high need for popularity on social media will pay more attention to their grooming, profile enhancement and strategic posing when posting selfies.
The study by researchers Ruoxu Want, Fan Yang and Michel Haigh is to be published in the journal Telematics and Informatics. Of the 275 respondents, 49 per cent were females with the average age being around 33 years old.
group photos or “groupies” had a more positive effect on all participants. The more often people viewed groupies, the higher their self-esteem.
Darion Humphrey, a first year law clerk student, is someone who prefers to see more groupies on her social media feed.
“I think when you have more group pictures it makes you look more like you have friends, you know? Like if it’s just all pictures of you then I’m going to be like, ‘Does she go out? Does she have friends?’” Humphrey said.
Humphrey says viewing lots of selfies doesn’t bother her as much as some of her peers because she’s already a confident person.
“I think for a lot of girls in college and our age, it does affect them a lot,” she said. “But I think that if we bring people up more instead of degrading other people’s pictures, then it’ll help society as a whole.”
But Jayda Salucideen, a first year cosmetic management student who reports some similar responses to those gathered by the academic survey, uses Instagram daily and says she’s often influenced by the way other people take their selfies.
“Say I take a selfie and then I would go to see other people’s selfies and it’s like, ‘No my selfie doesn’t look like that,’” Salucideen said. “So then it would be like, ‘Okay, now I don’t want to post it’.”
The 18-year-old thinks it’s only gotten worse since she was in high school. She says her peers have become obsessed with trying to take the perfect selfie in hopes of imitating the models they see online.
“One of my best friends, she’d be like okay so I took this [much] selfies and I want you to compare them and see which one you like best,” she said.