If you are a guy and follow in the selfie-fanatic footsteps of Justin Bieber, posting regular snaps of yourself on social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram, the picture is not pretty – you could be on the line to antisocial trait central.
A new study conducted by Jesse Fox, assistant professor of Communication at The Ohio State University, with Margaret Rooney a graduate student at Ohio State, shows that men in the study who posted more photos of themselves online than the rest of the group, scored higher on measures of narcissism and psychopathy.
Additionally, men, who tended to edit their selfies before posting, scored higher up the scale in narcissism and self-objectification, which measures the extent to which they prioritize their appearance.
“It’s not surprising that men who post a lot of selfies and spend more time editing them are more narcissistic, but this is the first time it has actually been confirmed in a study,” says Jesse Fox, lead author of the study.
“The more interesting finding is that they also score higher on this other antisocial personality trait, psychopathy, and are more prone to self-objectification.”
Narcissism is demonstrated by a belief that you are more intelligent, more attractive and generally better than others, although with some level of underlying insecurity. Psychopathy involves a lack of empathy and regard for others and a tendency toward impulsive behavior.
The participants included 800 men aged between 18-40, who took part and completed an online survey asking questions regarding their posting behavior on social media sites. The individuals were also asked to complete a standard questionnaire for antisocial behaviors and self-objectification.
Women were excluded from this study due to the dataset, which Fox received from a magazine, not containing comparable data for women.
In addition to asking how regularly the group members posted photos, the survey inquired as to whether the men edited their photos before posting by cropping, using filters or utilizing photo-editing software.
“Most people don’t think that men even do that sort of thing, but they definitely do,” Fox comments.
The results of the study are published online in the journal Personality and Individual Differences. Findings show that posting more photos was related to narcissism and psychopathy. However, psychopathy was not related to editing photos.
“That makes sense because psychopathy is characterized by impulsivity. They are going to snap the photos and put them online right away. They want to see themselves. They don’t want to spend time editing,” Fox explains.
Fox goes on to say that editing photos was also related to higher levels of self-objectification, which, she says, has been rarely studied in heterosexual men.
Self-objectification involves valuing yourself primarily by your appearance, in preference to other positive traits.
“We know that self-objectification leads to a lot of terrible things, like depression and eating disorders in women,” Fox says. “With the growing use of social networks, everyone is more concerned with their appearance. That means self-objectification may become a bigger problem for men, as well as for women.”
Fox emphasizes that the results of the study do not indicate men, who post numerous selfies, are in fact narcissists or psychopaths. All men scored within the normal range of behavior – just with higher than average levels of these particular antisocial traits.
The same research is currently being conducted with women that suggest the findings in this research also apply to women. Women, who post more selfies, also show higher levels of narcissism and psychopathy. However, self-objectification plays a larger role with women, Fox notes.
There is a self-reinforcing cycle when it comes to self-objectification, Fox continues. People who score higher on self-objectification post more selfies, which leads to more feedback from friends online, which encourages them to post even more photos of themselves. “It may make people objectify themselves even more. We are running a study on that now.”
“We are all concerned with our self-presentation online, but how we do that may reveal something about our personality.”
Overall, this and other studies suggest our personality traits may influence how we present ourselves online, Fox concludes.
Medical News Today recently reported that scientists believe that “one question” could be all researchers need to make a quick and easy diagnosis of narcissism.