AFRICANGLOBE – People who repeatedly snap pictures of themselves and post them online may be showing signs of mental illness along with the photographs.
Experts have linked the compulsion to post “selfies” on social media sites with everything from attention-seeking social dependence to very low self-esteem, but a new American study focussing on men found that those who posted selfies regularly, scored higher than average for anti-social traits.
Psychologists from Ohio State University found that men who regularly post selfies on sites such as Instagram, Twitter and Facebook are more likely to be narcissistic, impulsive, and display other characteristics such as a lack of empathy.
The study also indicated that self-objectification in men may be a bigger problem than was previously thought, with many men doctoring their selfies, before posting them online.
Men who spent time and effort editing images to improve their appearance, show signs of narcissism and self-objectification, according to the university’s assistant professor of communication Jesse Fox.
While narcissism is generally associated with vanity, as a psychological flaw it relates to a feeling of being more intelligent, attractive and better than others, the researchers said.
On the other hand, the study suggested that men who put their pictures online as fast as possible are more likely to show signs of psychopathy, which is defined as having a lack of empathy or regard for others.
As Professor Fox explained: “Psychopathy is characterised by impulsivity. 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.”
For the study, which was published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, the researchers quizzed 800 men aged between 18 and 40 about their social media output, and gave them psychological questionnaires to establish personality traits.
The volunteers were specifically asked how often they posted pictures on social media sites and whether they Photoshopped their selfies first.
Professor Fox said it was not surprising that men who posted a lot of selfies and spent more time editing them were more narcissistic.
But she noted that a more interesting finding was that “they also score higher on this other anti-social personality trait, psychopathy, and are more prone to self-objectification.”
She went on to warn that such behaviour can lead to further problems.
“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,” she concluded.