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The Psychological Explanation For Why We Love Selfies

The Psychological Explanation For Why We Love Selfies

Selfies are not a new topic. Baby Boomers are as eager to mock selfies as they are to figure out why we take them. And take them we do—roughly one million selfies are taken every day. That number seems impossible until you learn that we take nearly one trillion photos in a year. To do that, we take more pics every few minutes than the total number of photos taken in the 1800s.

So what is it about selfies that has so many of us taking photo after photo? You might be surprised to learn that taking selfies fits snugly—and sanely—into normal human psychology.

We look at a person’s face first

You’ve likely heard that as human beings we have a tendency to focus on people’s faces first when we meet them. In fact, we pay more attention to a person’s face than anything else about them—both online and off. Not only that, we also appreciate seeing a human face more than other visual content, and this may explain why people feel encouraged to take selfies.

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A 2014 study by the Georgia Institute of Technology and Yahoo Labs showed that Instagram photos with faces are 38 percent more likely to receive likes than photos without faces, and 32 percent more likely to get comments. It didn’t matter how many faces were in the photo, nor the race, age, or gender of the faces. If the photograph had a face, people were more drawn to it than other Instagram photos.

“Even as babies, people love to look at faces,” said Bakhshi [the Georgia Tech College of Computing Ph.D. student who led the study]. “Faces are powerful channels of non-verbal communication. We constantly monitor them for a variety of contexts, including attractiveness, emotions and identity.”

However, the same study found that the more selfies one posted, the less likely they were to receive likes and comments. It follows that saturating your followers’ feeds with selfies might make each individual photo less noteworthy. So if your selfies don’t seem to be getting more likes and comments then your other photos, consider scaling the amount your publish back so your selfie gems have room to shine.

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We long to cultivate and project our self-image

Digging a little deeper into human psychology gives us other clues. A theory proposed by American sociologist Charles Horton Cooley, called the ‘looking glass self’, states that “a person’s self grows out of a person´s social interactions with others”. Basically, our sense of ourselves is built on how we believe others perceive us and our personal qualities.

The self is not compiled from who we ‘really are’, but how we believe others see us. Cooley’s theory proceeds as follows: we imagine how we appear to another person, then we imagine what judgments people make of us based on our appearance, and lastly we imagine how the person feels about us based on those judgments.

“I imagine your mind, and especially what your mind thinks about my mind, and what your mind thinks about what my mind thinks about your mind.” – Charles Horton Cooley

According to Cooley, we form our self-image from our perception of how others in our close environment view us. These people serve as the ‘mirrors’ that reflect back images of ourselves.

Maybe this explains all the mirror selfies…?

Guide to a great selfie

Speaking of mirror selfies, we’ve all made selfie mistakes in the past. In the name of science, you can learn how to take great selfies and display your best digital self. Here are some of the most popular tips:

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  1. Smile naturally with your teeth
  2. Squinch
  3. Play with composition; try something asymmetrical
  4. Keep your hair out of your eyes
  5. Find your best jaw angle

And lastly, consider conveying why you took the selfie. Is it at a special location? Having a particularly good hair day? Make ’em appreciate your selfie; you look great.

Featured photo credit: Sunset Selfie/Daniel Lee via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 17, 2018

7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck

7 Signs of an Unhappy Relationship That Makes You Feel Stuck

Relationships are complicated and when you’re unhappy, it can be difficult to tell what’s causing it and what needs to change.

Sometimes it’s as easy as opening up to your partner about your problems, while other times it may be necessary to switch partners or roll solo to get your mind straight.

When you’re in the thick of things, it can be difficult to tell if you’re unhappy in your relationship or just unhappy in general (in which case, a relationship may be just the cure you need).

Here’re signs of an unhappy relationship that is possibly making you feel stuck:

1. You’re depressed about your home life.

No matter what you do in life, you’re going to have good and bad days. Your relationship is no different.

However, no matter what you’re going through at home, you have to feel comfortable in your own home.

If you constantly dread going home because your significant other is there, there’s a problem. Maybe it’s something you already know about, everyone has an argument or just needs some alone time.

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When that yearning to be alone becomes an insatiable obsession over the course of months and years, it’s time to realize you’re not the exception to the rule.

You’re unhappy in your relationship, and you need to take a look in the mirror and do whatever it takes to make yourself smile.

2. You aren’t comfortable being yourself.

Remember all those things you discovered about yourself when you first got together? The way your partner made you feel when you met that made you fall in love with him or her in the first place.

If they don’t make you feel that way anymore, it’s not the end of the world. If your partner makes you uncomfortable about being you, then her or she is only dragging you down. It’s up to you to decide how to handle that.

You need to be comfortable with who you are. This means being comfortable in your skin and with the way you walk, talk, look, breath, move, and all the other things that make you uniquely you.

If the person who supposedly loves you doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, know that you can do better. They’re not even one in a billion.

3. You can’t stop snooping.

Mutual trust is necessary in any relationship. The only way to get that trust is with respect.

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I can find you anywhere online, no matter how private and secure you think you are. The odds of you having a password I can’t crack are slim. If we’ve met in person, I could install a remote key logger on your device without even touching it.

Finding your information online hardly takes a clandestine organization. Any idiot with a Wi-Fi-enabled device can cyberstalk you. I’m just the only idiot in the village admitting it.

So now that we know everyone snoops, it’s time to address your personal habits. Governments snoop because they don’t trust us. If you’re snooping on your partner, it’s because you don’t trust them.

It’s ok to have doubts, and it’s perfectly normal to look into anything that looks weird, but keep in mind that data collection is only half of an investigation.

If you find yourself constantly snooping and questioning everything, clearly there’s a trust issue and the relationship likely needs to end.

4. You’re afraid of commitment.

If you’ve been dating longer than a year and you aren’t engaged, it’s never going to happen.

Commitment is important. People will come up with a million ways to describe why they can’t be committed.

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No matter who you are if you like it, you need to put a ring on it. Find an engagement ring, stick a gemstone in it and marry the person. If you’re not legally able to get married or you don’t believe in it for one reason or another, have a child (or adopt one, however you’re able to) or treat your partner’s family like your own. It’s a huge financial and mental commitment.

If you’re not ready for one or the other after some time, don’t waste anymore of your precious life on the relationship.

Your relationship should be something that propels you forward. If it’s not going anywhere, make it an open relationship and call it what it is—dating multiple people.

5. You imagine a happier life without your partner.

If all you’re doing is imagining a happier life without your partner, it’s a sign that you’re in the wrong relationship. You’re unhappy and you need to get out.

Your partner should be included in your dreams. There’s nothing wrong with wanting a future with someone.

Try to remember what you dreamed of before you got your heart broken by the realities of life, love and the pursuit of human success.

Remember when you would crush on that cute kid in class? You would secretly imagine marrying him or her and going on an adventure—that’s the way life should be.

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If you’re not at least imagining adventures together, then why are you in that relationship?

6. You resent, rather than love your partner.

When a relationship starts to crumble, you begin to resent your partner for all the things you once loved about him or her.

When you’ve reached this point, your partner has reached at least No. 2 on this list. From your partner’s perspective, your unhappiness with them is picked up as bashing them for being who they are.

If you’re both unhappy in the relationship, it’s better if it ends as quickly and painlessly as possible.

7. You chase past feelings.

It’s okay to reminisce about the past, but if all you do is wish things were like they used to be, it’s a sign you’re not on the right path.

You’re unhappy and, at the very least, you need to have an open dialogue about it. This isn’t necessarily a sign that the relationship should end, but it definitely needs a spark.

When you talk to your partner candidly about what it is you’re looking for, you never know how they’ll react. The risk alone is worth it, good or bad.

Final thoughts

If you’re feeling stuck in your current relationship, it’s time to reflect about it with your partner. Don’t ignore these signs of an unhappy relationship as they will slowly go worse and harm both you and your partner in long-term.

Featured photo credit: josh peterson via unsplash.com

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