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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.

More by this author

Chris Haigh

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

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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