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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 June 26, 2020

10 Things To Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

10 Things To Remember When Everything Goes Wrong

Problems and heartaches in life are inevitable. However, there are some things to remember when you’re right in the thick of it that can help you get through it. When everything seems to be going wrong, practice telling yourself these things.

1. This Too Shall Pass

Sometimes life’s rough patches feel like they’re going to last forever. Whether you’re dealing with work-related issues, family problems, or stressful situations, very few problems last for a lifetime. So remind yourself, that things won’t be this bad forever.

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2. Some Things are Going Right

When things are going wrong, it’s hard to recognize what is going right. It’s easy to screen out the good things and only focus on the bad things. Remind yourself that some things are going right. Purposely look for the positive, even if it is something very small.

3. I Have Some Control

One of the most most important things to remember is that you have some control of the situation. Even if you aren’t in complete control of the situation, one thing you can always control is your attitude and reaction. Focus on managing what is within your control.

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4. I Can Ask for Help

Asking for help can be hard sometimes. However, it’s one of the best ways to deal with tough situations. Tell people what you need specifically if they offer to help. Don’t be afraid to call on friends and family and ask them for help, whether you need financial assistance, emotional support, or practical help.

5. Much of This Won’t Matter in a Few Years

Most of the problems we worry about today won’t actually matter five years from now. Remind yourself that whatever is going wrong now is only a small percentage of your actual life. Even if you’re dealing with a major problem, like a loved one’s illness, remember that a lot of good things are likely to happen in the course of a year or two as well.

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6. I Can Handle This

A lack of confidence in handling tough times can add to stress. One of the best things to remember is that you can handle tough situations. Even though you might feel angry, hurt, disappointed, or sad, it won’t kill you. You can get through it.

7. Something Good Will Come Out of This

No matter how bad a situation is, it’s almost certain that something good will come out of it. At the very least, it’s likely that you will learn a life lesson. Perhaps you learn not to repeat the same mistake in the future or maybe you move on from a bad situation and find something better. Look for the one good thing that can result when bad things happen.

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8. I Can Accept What’s Out of my Control

There are many things that aren’t within your control. You can’t change the past, another person’s behavior, or a loved one’s health issues. Don’t waste time trying to force others to change or trying to make things be different if it isn’t within your control. Investing time and energy into trying to things you can’t will cause you to feel helpless and exhausted. Acceptance is one of the best way to establish resilience.

9. I Have Overcome Past Difficulties

One of the things to remember when you’re facing difficulties, is that you’ve handled problems in the past. Don’t overlook past difficulties that you’ve dealt with successfully. Remind yourself of all the past problems you’ve overcome and you’ll gain confidence in dealing with the current issues.

10. I Need to Take Care of Myself

When everything seems to be going wrong, take care of yourself. Get plenty of rest, get some exercise, eat healthy, and spend some time doing leisure activities. When you’re taking better care of yourself you’ll be better equipped to deal with your problems.

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Featured photo credit: NeONBRAND via unsplash.com

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