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Research Finds Men Who Love Taking Selfies Display Higher Psychopathic Tendencies

Research Finds Men Who Love Taking Selfies Display Higher Psychopathic Tendencies

Ah, the humble selfie. One of the most divisive inventions of social media, and yet something virtually everyone with a Facebook account or a smartphone camera has indulged in. While many think of it as a pure form of self-expression and a way of boosting self-esteem and self-image, new research has potentially revealed that men who indulge in selfies on a regular basis may be much more likely to score higher on the psychopath rating scale.

In research conducted by a team at the Ohio State University, they found that men who reported a higher rate of selfie-taking and sharing were more likely to have higher than average psychopathic tendencies, while the act of self-moderating and editing said selfies is related to higher rates of narcissism and self-objectification, which in turn can lead to much higher rates of self-harm and body dysmorphia.

Fortunately, while being addicted to taking a selfie isn’t ideal, it doesn’t actually lead to the psychopathic tendencies — it’s simply correlated with them, meaning that you won’t start to develop more elements of psychopathic behaviour with every selfie you take.

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In addition, these fluctuations occurred in what is considered to be a “normal” range of psychopathic tendencies within men, so we’re certainly not expecting an upsurge in Patrick Bateman wannabes in the Tinder and Instagram-friendly crowd.

The leader of the research group, Jesse Fox, had this to say about her study:

“We know that self-objectification leads to a lot of terrible things, like depression and eating disorders in women… With the growing use of social networks, everyone is more concerned with their appearance. That means self-objectification may become a bigger problem for men.”

Fox is currently looking into the effects of modern social media on the personalities of women, in a companion study to her and her team’s recently unveiled research.

Interestingly enough, the two “problems” associated with selfie-taking outlined in the Ohio State University’s research has pointedly divided in their treatment of how they view and treat photographs.

People with higher psychopathic tendencies were much more likely to post their pictures directly to their social media channel of choice, as psychopathy is generally considered to have a much higher correlation with impulsivity and on-the-fly decision-making in line with a psychopath’s lack of empathy.

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Self-objectifiers, on the other hand, spent a significant amount of time analysing, curating, and extensively editing each of their photos in their online presence so as to best show off their best side, angle, and overall appearance within the photograph — symptoms which have a high correlation with lower self-esteem and perfectionist tendencies.

When speaking to the Telegraph, Fox expanded on the study’s results:

“Psychopathy is characterised by impulsivity,” she added. “They are going to snap the photos and put them online right away. They want to see themselves. They don’t want to spend time editing.”

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She added, “We know that self-objectification leads to a lot of terrible things, like depression and eating disorders in women.”

“With the growing use of social networks, everyone is more concerned with their appearance. That means self-objectification may become a bigger problem for men, as well as for women.”

However, self-objectification is on the rise amongst both men and women, and anything that raises the likelihood of this happening is far from good for your self-esteem and mental health. Our culture already thrives on telling people that our ideals should be airbrushed to within an inch of their lives, and that if their lives don’t exactly match up to the impossibly high standards of society, we’re failing somehow and should strive even harder to do so, even if doing so strains our psychologically wellbeing.

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Our advice and the advice of others in the field? Maybe start curating your social media preference a bit when it comes to the humble selfie. How about limiting the selfies to maybe once a day if not once a week? It’s advice we’ll be taking on board.

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Chris Haigh

Writer, baker, co-host of "Good Evening Podcast" and "North By Nerdwest".

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Last Updated on January 15, 2021

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

Posture

First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

  • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
  • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
  • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
  • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

Facial Expressions

Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

  • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
  • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
  • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

2. Relax Your Face

New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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3. Improve Your Eye Contact

Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

3. Smile More

There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

4. Hand Gestures

Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

5. Enhance Your Handshake

In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

“Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

Final Takeaways

Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

Reference

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