Take out your smartphone and scroll through your photos. We’ll wait. Notice anything? If you’re seeing dozens of pictures of yourself, you’re a selfie addict, and we’re sorry to break it to you, but that’s not such a good thing. In recent years, researchers have carried out several selfie-centric studies, and for the most part, the results aren’t great for selfie aficionados. For starters, nobody wants to see them. In a study titled “The Selfie Paradox,” researchers from Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich, Germany, shed light on the “contradictory phenomenon of selfies and their psychological value.” The researchers, Sarah Diefenback and Lara Christoforakos, examined how people who take selfies are perceived by themselves and their peers. “Taking, posting, and viewing selfies has become a daily habit for many,” they acknowledged in the study’s abstract. At the same time, research revealed that selfies often evoke criticism and disrespect and are associated with non-authenticity and narcissism. Diefenback and Christoforakos found that people view selfie-takers as “narcissistic” but judge their own selfies as “more authentic and self-ironic.” To put it another way, while you might think that you’re being clever and mocking the whole selfie trend, other people will see your photo for what it likely is: a typical selfie. All this makes for a strange paradox, since nobody seems to like selfies, but most of us keep posting them. “Taking peoples’ statements literally, selfies should have never become as popular as they actually are,” the researchers wrote.
Not only that, but selfie viewing might harm your self-esteem.
Two graduate students at Penn State University studied the psychological effects of selfie viewing. As the researchers noted, “neither selfie nor groupie posting behavior was associated with self-esteem or life satisfaction.” In other words, posting pictures online—whether they’re selfies or groupies—doesn’t indicate anything particular about your self-esteem or life satisfaction.
If you’re still addicted to taking selfies, though, we’ve got a bit of good news.
Scientists have also been working to figure out how to take the perfect selfie. A study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology asked 172 people to rate 14 faces shown from different perspectives. Researchers Tobias M. Schneider and Claus-Christian Carbon found that camera positioning plays a big role in our perception. The faces rated most attractive appeared to be tilted to the right by about 15 degrees. When participants viewed faces tilted 30 or more degrees to the left, they were more likely to rate the photos as sympathetic and intelligent. That means that if you want to take an attractive photo, show more of the right side of your face. If you’re trying to take a selfie to show how smart you are, show more of your left side. However, the researchers noted that their results are far from conclusive—and that’s really the case with all of these selfie studies. “Taking selfies is now becoming a standard human habit,” wrote Schneider and Carbon in their selfie study. “However, as a social phenomenon, research is still in the fledgling stage and the scientific framework is sparse.”