From a guest post by Quentine Fottrell on theburningplatform.com:
This academic study of people who post selfies confirms everything you suspect
Are you concerned by the number of people visiting tourist attractions wielding selfie sticks? And do you grow tired of the number of selfies appearing on social media sites? You’re not alone.
A backlash against selfies is afoot. Disney (DIS, -0.41%) , which celebrates its 60th anniversary on Friday, is cracking down on selfies. This month, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland followed last month’s move by Disney’s U.S.-based theme parks by banning selfie sticks. The Sistine Chapel in Italy and Palace Museum in Beijing also recently banned them. The Coachella music festival in California, which took place in April, and the Lollapalooza festival in Chicago, which begins on July 31, banned them too. In fact, Coachella’s rules state: “No Selfie Sticks/No Narcissists.”
These venues may be doing these selfie-lovers a service. There is a dark side to people who constantly share photos of themselves online, an increasing body of research suggests. People who post selfies on social networks are more likely to exhibit what some psychologists call “the dark triad” of personality traits, according to two recent studies of nearly 1,200 men and women who completed personality tests and answered questions on their online habits. This dark triad consists of narcissism (extreme self-centeredness), Machiavellianism (manipulation of others) and psychopathy (acting impulsively with no regard for other people’s feelings).
“It’s not a wonderful personality constellation,” says Jesse Fox, assistant professor of communications at Ohio State University, and co-author of the study of 800 men — “The Dark Triad” — published in the April 2015 edition of Personality and Individual Differences, a peer-reviewed journal, and a similar paper studying 400 women, which will be presented at a conference in November and soon be submitted for publication. Narcissism and psychopathy predicted the actual number of selfies posted on sites like Facebook (FB, +4.11%) and Instagram, as did how often people edited photographs to be posted on social-networking sites.
These findings are supported by a study of 400 men and women published last year in the journal Social Networking, a peer-reviewed quarterly academic journal that publishes studies on social relations. Although social media is primarily a tool for staying connected rather than self-promotion, it found there was one notable exception: The more people changed their profile picture, the more likely they were to report narcissistic traits. (The study also looked at the time they spent on Facebook and the words they used to rate their profile pictures.)
Posting, tagging and commenting on photos on Facebook were associated with respondents’ self-reported narcissism for both men and women, the study — “Is Facebook Linked to Selfishness?” – found. And posting frequent status updates and sharing links with a greater frequency were specifically linked with more narcissistic tendencies in women. The participants answered questions about both their social media habits and the Narcissistic Personality Index, a standard psychological test.
But sharing images on social media can have a positive impact on the networkers. It exposes people to the lives of others, their good times and bad times, says Tracy Packiam Alloway, associate professor at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and co-author of the study. (Of course, people do tend to boast on social media, too.) And the ability to promote oneself with photos feeds narcissistic tendencies in those that are already very self-involved rather than actually turning selfless people into selfie-obsessed people. And correlation isn’t causation: These studies may show a connection, but don’t suggest that social networking actually causes people to be more narcissistic or Machiavellianism.
“Never before in our history have we been able to talk to millions of people with a single picture,” says Julie Hanks, owner and executive director of Wasatch Family Therapy in Salt Lake City. “In the past, we sought attention from people in our circle. Now we can seek approval from strangers and there’s more opportunity for narcissists to seek attention and validation.”