Link found between selfie viewing and decreased self-esteem

October 19, 2016, Pennsylvania State University

Frequent viewing of selfies through social network sites like Facebook is linked to a decrease in self-esteem and life satisfaction, according to Penn State researchers in mass communications. "Most of the research done on social network sites looks at the motivation for posting and liking content, but we're now starting to look at the effect of viewing behavior," said Ruoxu Wang, graduate student in mass communications.

Viewing behavior is also called "lurking" - when a person does not participate in posting or liking social content, but is just an observer. This form of participation in may sound like it should have little effect on how humans view themselves, but the study, published online in the Journal of Telematics and Informatics, revealed the exact opposite.

Wang and Fan Yang, graduate student in , conducted an online survey to collect data on the psychological effects of posting and viewing selfies and groupies. They worked with Wang's graduate adviser, Michel Haigh, associate professor in communications. Posting behavior did not have significant for participants. Viewing behavior did. They discovered the more often people viewed their own and others' selfies, the lower their level of self-esteem and .

"People usually post selfies when they're happy or having fun," said Wang. "This makes it easy for someone else to look at these pictures and think your his or her life is not as great as theirs."

Those participants categorized as having a strong desire to appear popular were even more sensitive to selfie and groupie viewing. In this case, however, Sselfie and groupie viewing behavior increased the self-esteem and life satisfaction for these participants, likely because this activity satisfied the participants' desires to appear popular, according to the researchers.

Wang and Yang hope their work can raise awareness about social media use and the effect it has on viewers of people's social networks.

"We don't often think about how what we post affects the people around us," said Yang. "I think this study can help people understand the potential consequences of their posting behavior. This can help counselors work with students feeling lonely, unpopular, or unsatisfied with their lives."

Explore further: Are narcissists more likely to post selfies and care about the feedback they receive?

Related Stories

Coolness, control and community draw people to Pinterest

September 29, 2016

Cool features with easy-to-follow instructions that provide control and community may keep Pinterest users pinning, liking and inviting, according to researchers, who add that these behaviors may reveal new ways people are ...

Your selfie obsession could ruin your relationship

January 29, 2016

"Selfie" is not just word of the year, but also the mainstay of postings on social media sites such as Instagram. With the prevalence of camera-equipped smartphones the posting of selfies has reached epidemic levels – even ...

Recommended for you

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex

March 22, 2019

University of Alberta paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed "Scotty," lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan ...

NASA instruments image fireball over Bering Sea

March 22, 2019

On Dec. 18, 2018, a large "fireball—the term used for exceptionally bright meteors that are visible over a wide area—exploded about 16 miles (26 kilometers) above the Bering Sea. The explosion unleashed an estimated 173 ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.