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Is Selfie-Posting Behavior a Kind of Nonpathological Narcissism?

1. Introduction

The psychological states influenced by taking and posting selfies online are particularly associated with emotional states of self-consciousness and/or anxiety of unfavorable assessment by other individuals. (Mills et al., 2018) The selfie phenomenon prolongs societal surveillance and bolsters up power relations. (Kedzior and Allen, 2016) Digital self-portraits can be employed as a go-between for intentions of self-extension and personal branding. (Ozansoy Cadirci and Sagkaya Gungor, 2019) An individual's selfie-posting behavior on social networking sites is relevantly predicted by an impulsion to post selfies. (Kim et al., 2016) More than just photos, selfies draw attention to the link between the figure and digital technology via the interactive somatic harmony with the gadget and through the virtual realms such self-portraits are designed to travel in. (Hess, 2015) Posting and editing pictures embolden users to concentrate on supercilious and meaningless behaviors. (Halpern et al., 2016) Selfie culture cannot be thoroughly dissolved into the rhetoric of ascendancy. (Giroux, 2015) Selfie-takers may subvert their strivings to overwhelm their peers by taking selfies. (Re et al., 2016)

2. Conceptual Framework and Literature Review

The selfie functions as an articulation of coexistence, of epitomizing the corporeal, digital, and connected realms in concert, being a token of diverse memberships to material, collective spaces and shared networked settings (Cruciani, 2018; Fielden et al., 2018; Freeman-Moir, 2017; Krizanova et al., 2019; Lazaroiu, 2018; Nica, 2018; Roberts and Marchais, 2018; Roca-Sales and Lopez-Garcia, 2017) linked through online social networking services. (Hess, 2015) Selfie-takers may consider truthful they are good-looking and appealing and may self-improve by thinking they are endowed with the photography abilities required to reproduce such valuable qualities thus surpassing other people. (Re et al., 2016) Selfie taking and sharing may generate superior social sensitivity and inferior self-confidence of users. (Shin et al., 2017) Digital self-portraits comprise insufficient personality-related indications and are unmanageable for fact-based zero-acquaintance character judgment by permitting selfie takers to have entire control of their looks (people can effortlessly misrepresent their facial appearance and eye contact to show up dissimilar from how they typically seem to be), are frequently taken for distribution on visual content-sharing sites, and nearly all of them only encompass faces, thus hindering significant hints (e.g. body posture and style of apparel) to come into view in the photo. (Qiu et al., 2015)

Selfie culture is progressively fashioned within a way of transience in which swift rates of replacement and brief attention periods turn into the extent of how an individual monopolizes the conceptual and emotional areas of the market, highlighted by expedition, immediate recompense, volatility, and disposability. (Giroux, 2015) The selfie, a kind of conceptualization with a history, is visual material form and consumer behavior. (Iqani and Schroeder, 2016) Impression management is decisive in grasping the consumer selfie-posting mechanism. (Pounders et al., 2016) The drives and operations of online social networking to a certain extent may be evidence of strategic self-presentation. (Sorokowski et al., 2015) Selfies are swift reproducing memes intended at no individual destination and revolving in the digital realm as personalities turned into virtual signs, possibly constituting pathological symptoms of inferior self-confidence and attention-seeking behavior. (Lee, 2017) The routine of taking selfies is symptomatic of the ambiguity of the confines between public and private social manner of living. (Walsh and Baker, 2017)

3. Methodology and Empirical Analysis

Building my argument by drawing on data collected from FHEHealth, GfK, Nielsen, OPPO, and Statista, I performed analyses and made estimates regarding U.S. adults who think it is acceptable to take a selfie in various circumstances (%, by age group), the ways in which U.S. Internet users share selfies (%, by demographic profile), and how social media impacts the way U.S. adults see themselves (%). Structural equation modeling was used to analyze the collected data.

4. Results and Discussion

Intentional utilization of the selfie demonstrates adjustments in the established roles of the advertising image, from sources of evidence, inducement, and characterization to symbols of social fashionableness. (Iqani and Schroeder, 2016) As selfies turn into the digital connection for grasping physicality, the apprehension between space and network is intensified. (Hess, 2015) If digital self-portraits are contingent on self-favoring predispositions, as a consequence selfie-takers may overrate how appreciatively their pictures are viewed, bringing about a kind of weakness whereby other users perceive targets' selfies as less appealing than the subject grasps. (Re et al., 2016) Selfies constitute an adequate tool for self-presentation, displaying users' personality and assisting in transmitting their impeccable self-concept, as digital self-portraits can be manipulated effortlessly. (Shin et al., 2017) Although the digital self-portrait designates an implication of human involvement, selfies are produced, exhibited, shared, and tracked via a cluster of nonhuman surrogates. The principles of this aggregation converts the selfie, a conventional indication of contiguity and togetherness, into a persistent suggestion that once anything penetrates the digital realm, it forthwith emerges as component of the fabric of the digital citizenship, riding out the moment and setting in which it was initially created, observed, or disseminated. (Senft and Baym, 2015)

The selfie is linked to notions of veracity, consumption, and assertiveness, in addition to routines of art history, media patterns, and self-portraiture. (Iqani and Schroeder, 2016) As a social routine, the selfie symbolizes an expression of human beings' antithetical perseverance in hybridity. (Hess, 2015) The operation of taking a selfie may briefly decrease users' cognizance of their proximate surroundings and expose them to unanticipated risks. (Flaherty and Choi, 2016) The burgeoning of selfie as a type of graphic expression is linked to the intensifying propensity to display a flawless conceptualization of the self. The endeavor to remain connected notwithstanding one's setting indicates that the demarcation between public and private is less relevant. (Walsh and Baker, 2017) (Tables 1-5)

5. Conclusions and Implications

Selfies constitute an ordinary activity and an unrefined performance of the subject, also incorporating additional contextual information concerning the user. (Ozansoy Cadirci and Sagkaya Gungor, 2019) By getting involved in careful self-presentation, individuals ask for confirmation from other people to fortify their self-concept. (Shin et al., 2017) If digital self-portraits are met with widespread appreciation as likes but in no circumstances disagreement due to the fact that such an option is nonexistent, it may result in distorted reactions that activate self-favoring tendencies by boosting posters' self-assessments. (Re et al., 2016) Selfies act both as a routine of ordinary existence and as the commodity of current rhetoric about how individuals should represent, validate, and convey their behaviors. (Senft and Baym, 2015)


The interviews were conducted online and data were weighted by five variables (age, race/ethnicity, gender, education, and geographic region) using the Census Bureau's American Community Survey to reflect reliably and accurately the demographic composition of the United States. The precision of the online polls was measured using a Bayesian credibility interval.


This paper was supported by Grant GE-1489262 from the Center for Big Data-driven Algorithmic Decision-Making, Portland, OR.

Author Contributions

The author confirms being the sole contributor of this work and approved it for publication.

Conflict of Interest Statement

The author declares that the research was conducted in the absence of any commercial or financial relationships that could be construed as a potential conflict of interest.


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Gratiela Sion

Spiru Haret University, Bucharest, Romania

Received 19 May 2019 * Received in revised form 2 December 2019

Accepted 4 December 2019 * Available online 10 December 2019

Table 1 U.S. adults who think it is acceptable to take a selfie in
various circumstances (%, by age group)

                                      18-34  35-54  55+

While at a concert                    60     28     12
While visiting a tourist destination  46     29     25
While attending a party               54     30     16
While at a wedding                    58     25     17
While at a gym                        63     23     14
While dining at a restaurant          67     23     10
While riding public transport         66     22     12
While in the bath                     71     19     10
While attending a funeral             69     21     10

Sources: Statista; my survey among 5,200 individuals conducted
April 2019.

Table 2 Selfie usage patterns

Selfies taken with  Family and friends (32%), solo (51%), in front of
                    a landmark (7%)
Group selfies are   Partying (33%), family function (9%), travelling
taken while         (58%)
What constitutes    Big eyes (17%), flawless skin (13%), sharp
a perfect selfie    face (7%), clear subject (47%), wide angle (16%)
Top reasons for     Difficulty in fitting all people in frame (50%),
taking more than    issue with lighting (21%), difficulty in fitting
one shot            the background scene (29%)
79%                 Send pictures to connect with friends
86%                 Upload selfies on social media to share their new
89%                 Take more than one shot every time to ensure a
                    perfect selfie

Sources: Nielsen; OPPO; my survey among 5,200 individuals
conducted April 2019.

Table 3 Do U.S. adults become more or less confident about their
bodies over time on social media? (%)

                          Women  Men

Less confident            46     30
More confident            32     35
Same level of confidence  17     27
I'm not sure               5      8

Sources: FHEHealth; my survey among 5,200 individuals conducted
April 2019.

Table 4 The ways in which U.S. Internet users share selfies (%, by
demographic profile)

                                          18-24  25-34  35-44

Publish it in social media                39     23     17
Send it in private to your close friends  27     24     23
Send it in private to your partner        14     18     27
Keep it for yourself                       8     12     20

                                          45-54  55+

Publish it in social media                12      9
Send it in private to your close friends  15     11
Send it in private to your partner        24     17
Keep it for yourself                      26     34

Sources: Statista; my survey among 5,200 individuals conducted
April 2019.

Table 5 How social media impacts the way U.S. adults see themselves (%)

                                                       Men  Women

Taking multiple selfies before choosing one to post    38   44
Editing or cropping a photo to make themselves look
better online                                          39   42
Feeling some pressure to look good on social media     28   26
Being teased, trolled, or body-shamed on social media   4    8
about their appearance or weight

Sources: GfK; my survey among 5,200 individuals conducted April 2019.
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Author:Sion, Gratiela
Publication:Analysis and Metaphysics
Date:Jan 1, 2019
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