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Exploring the Reasons for Selfie-Taking and Selfie-Posting on Social Media with Its Effect on Psychological and Social Lives: A Study among Indian Youths

Divya P. Vijayan1, Tokani Ghuhato1, Eslavath Rajkumar2,*, Allen Joshua George3, Romate John1, John Abraham4

1 Department of Psychology, Central University of Karnataka, Kalaburagi, 585367, India
2 Department of Liberal Arts, Indian Institute of Technology Bhilai, Chhattisgarh, 491002, India
3 Liberal Arts & Sciences, Indian Institute of Management Ranchi, Jharkhand, 834001, India
4 Department of Family Medicine/Geriatrics, St. John’s National Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore, 560034, India

* Corresponding Author: Eslavath Rajkumar. Email: email

International Journal of Mental Health Promotion 2024, 26(5), 389-398. https://doi.org/10.32604/ijmhp.2024.023032

Abstract

‘Selfie’ taking was introduced to the common people by smartphones and has become a common practice across the globe in no time. With technological advancement and the popularity of smartphones, selfie-taking has grown rapidly within a short time. In light of the new trend set by the generation, this study aimed to explore reasons for selfie-taking and selfie-posting on social media and their effects on the social and psychological lives of young adults. A purposive sampling method was adopted to select 20 Indian citizens, between 18 and 24 years. The data were collected through semi-structured interviews and analysed using thematic analysis. Selfie-taking and posting on social media give positive feelings, and it acts as a mood modifier dependent mostly on the favourability and feedback about the post which in turn affects emotions and self-satisfaction.

Keywords


Introduction

According to the Oxford dictionary ‘a selfie’ is a self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a digital camera or smartphone, which may be held in the hand or supported by a selfie stick”. Selfies shared on social media are highly popular nowadays. Women post more selfies when compared to men [1]. Over the years, this trend of self-generated selfies has grown popular. Most selfies are taken to capture a moment, relive the experience, and showcase travels. Many Individuals who attend social events and travel a lot take selfies to document their memories [2]. People find selfies as emotionally engaging and personal. People find it interesting to make self-objectification which means when individuals treat themselves as objects to be viewed and evaluated based on appearance [3] on social media rather than seeking somebody’s assistance for taking pictures [4]. Selfies seem to play a vital role in peoples’ lives in attaining their ideal selves or should be ‘physical selves’ in the virtual world. That is, people present themselves, through their outfit choices, hairstyles, and not only their attributes, but also their attitudes, status, physical state, and moods, by posting photos that only showcase the best parts of their lives. According to Carl Rogers, the personality is composed of the real self and the ideal self. The ideal self is an idealized version of oneself created out of what someone has learned from life experiences, the demands of society, and role models [5].

The lifestyle changes could be noticed on social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat [6]. Social networking has become an advanced mode of communication and self-expression, as virtual communities provide an opportunity for individuals to create public and private profiles, supporting interaction with people having common interests, enabling updation of their activities for others to see, allowing to view and comment on others’ activities, and acting as a platform for sharing information [7]. Social media helps people to establish good interaction, to exchange enjoyable, informative, and fascinating materials that may impact individuals and culture as a whole [8]. A study revealed that 90% of young adults aged between 18 and 29 use social networking sites more as compared to adults aged between 30 and 49 years [9]. People may associate their looks with colleagues, family, and foreigners [10]. Hancock et al. [11] have observed that people were choosing the pictures of their online account profiles to appear as attractive as possible. Social connections lead people to make decisions based on their schedules more than personal desires [12]. A closer look at the literature shows that women are more likely to post images on social media as compared to men [13,14] and are more inclined than men to create, handle, and retain their self-presentation.

According to the study by Clarridge [15], people who post more selfies are considered less friendly and less productive, more anxious, and less available for new experiences. Social networking users may control their views of others by only praising their self-images, eliminating perceived faults or shortcomings [1618]. A cross-sectional study revealed that Facebook use is associated with greater (upwards) peer contrast and self-objectivation, more connected to weaker self-esteem, reduced mental well-being, and difficulties with physical appearance [19].

Another study has established that excessive use of social media, in particular the posting of images and selfies, is associated with a subsequent increase in narcissism by an average of 25% [20]. The compulsive usage of Social Network Selfies (SNS) is significantly related to extroversion, neuroticism, and agreeableness [21]. In 2014, as stated in an article titled The Adobo Chronicles ‘selfies’ are the individual with the genuine condition of obsessive-compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self and post them on social media as a way to make up for their low self-esteem and fill a gap of intimacy, which is also considered as a psychological disorder. A ‘Selfitis Behaviour Scale’ was developed too, based on the alleged levels of selfitis [7].

A study conducted by Pounders et al. [18] that focused on the selfie phenomenon particularly the three reasons why people love to take selfies found that the motivation for selfie postings is due to impression management, the tendency to enhance self-esteem, and that an average woman, whose age is between 16 to 25 spend five hours a week by taking selfies and posting of three selfies a day. In some studies, it is stated that posting selfies is also used as a self-regulating strategy in which one can improve and maintain their self-image by getting feedback from others [22]. The differences between people in real life vs. social life are the greater ability to change the external appearance, in effect ‘masking one’s identity’. People tend to have more control over their social networking sites or social media accounts when compared to real life. They can untag or delete unflattering photos and choose how they want themselves to be portrayed [23]. With advanced software, people have access to tools that allow them to shape and highlight specific body features. Applications such as Facetune or Photoshop, allow users to edit their photos into their ideal selves [24]. Another study that intended to find the impact of posting selfies and gaining feedback (‘likes’) on the psychological well-being of 16 to 25-year-old young adults found that without feedback there is no impact on mood and self-esteem. Moreover, posting selfies with feedback resulted in a greater improvement in self-satisfaction [25]. The still-evolving ‘selfie culture’ has both negative and positive outcomes. The Boston University School of Medicine’s dermatology department reported that people go to plastic surgeons requesting “fuller lips, bigger eyes, or a thinner nose” that they see in photo filters [26].

In the background of quantitative studies that assessed the association of clinical and positive variables with selfie-taking and uploading it in social media behaviour. This review of the reasons for Selfie-Taking and Selfie-Posting on Social Media through a qualitative inquiry makes an important point: the majority of previous studies have only focused on selfie-posting frequency and its relationship with personality factors and psychological concepts. However, the current study especially focused on the socio-psychological aspects of self-taking and posting behaviour and its effects on an individual’s life in the young Indian population. Since their selfie-taking behaviour has unique significance in the lives of selfie users and should be studied further with different populations.

Materials and Method

Study design

The explorative design of the study involved a semi-structured interview process. In this way, data was gathered without any preconceived hypothesis.

Inclusion criteria

The sample consisted of participants who had reported taking more than five selfies per day. This choice was made based on the American Psychiatric Association’s statement that people who take more than five selfies and post them are regarded as suffering from obsessive selfie-taking behaviour [27].

Participants

The study was conducted on young adults from various parts of India, especially from north-eastern states, Karnataka, Kerala and Telangana. A purposive sampling technique was employed for the selection of participants. As part of that, a screening test (consisting of basic questions related to their selfie-taking behaviour) was administered to determine whether the person was eligible to be part of the study. Following the screening test and related queries, 20 participants met the inclusion criteria and were selected for the study. The sample size was categorized as people taking selfies from different states in India. From the total population 14 (70%) were females and 6 (30%) males of which all participants were young adults doing their undergraduate and postgraduate and one was married, and a few were pursuing higher secondary and working. Of the total population of the present study, 5 participants were from northeast states (Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, and Nagaland), 5 participants from Kerala state, 4 participants were from Karnataka and 6 participants were from Telangana. Among these participants 6 participants were from urban residences, 5 were from rural residences, and 9 participants were from semi-urban residences. The average age group of the participants was 21.5.

Data collection procedure

First, a screening test was done for all the participants by passing a Google form, and then based on the responses and the interest of the people in taking part, were contacted individuals through the telephone. They were given brief information about the study and their consent was taken by telephone at least 24 h before participating in an interview. Participants were interviewed through telephone and were only interviewed once. Sociodemographic data were collected to inform the analysis and contextualize participants. Participants’ confidentiality and anonymity were of utmost importance. Transcripts of the data were rearranged to remove identifying information before sharing it with the team for analysis. A semi-structured interview was used to collect the data from the participants. The present studies consisted of 20 participants and were selected by using a convenience sampling method. The interviews were conducted in the period from February 2020 to April 2020 by all teammates. Due to some unpredictable reasons, the investigators had also done telephonic interviews to collect the data. Each interview started with a presentation of the research and its purposes, followed by informal information, an introduction of the topic was given and data was collected based on the semi-structured questions related to the study. Investigators explained the aims of the study to the participants and obtained consent to record their voices; interviews were conducted at the convenience of the participants. Every interview lasted between 10 to 15 min and voice recorded and transcribed in English. After each interview, the recorded interview content was carefully reviewed several times and then typed verbatim. This was done to increase the accuracy of the information transferred to paper and to further control the information. Then the data were analyzed using thematic analysis to generate codes and themes.

Data analysis

The transcripts collected through semi-structured interviews were analyzed by using thematic analysis. This was used to understand and to gain more information, which would help in making profound interpretations about the research by the researcher. The interpretation is formulated into four different domains with the inclusion of subdomains as well. For this study, the transcripts were reviewed several times, and a general understanding of the participants’ statements was obtained, and then based on the meaning unit and condensed unit, the codes, subdomains, the main domains were extracted. Data saturation criteria vary according to sample variety, participant selection method, data collection method, and available resources.

Results

Social media is an easy way to update others about oneself as to what one does or how one’s life is. With the advantage of having a large network, uploading a selfie with only a few clicks allows one to update their activities. The current study pointed out the reasons for selfie-taking behaviour including exchange of information, impression management, preserving personal memories, and attention seeking. Some people experience social alienation, become self-centred, experience mood swings based on their likes and opinions received for posts, and many people become more concerned about their looks than about family issues. Specific themes and sub-themes that emerged are described briefly.

Motives for taking selfies

Selfies can be taken with a phone camera or any other camera where one captures the image of self. The reasons for selfie-taking can differ from individual to individual. Five major themes emerged as the reasons for selfie-taking which act as motives for taking selfies and how they feel about a selfie-taking behaviour and its outcome.

Being part of the society

Society is a collective sum of social networks and social interactions. As social beings, getting involved in social activities or socializing can be crucial for one’s growth and development. The ability to adapt to society as a human being can be recognized as a reason why selfie is an instrument to appear as a part of society.

Participant AF stated, “I feel like I am engaged or involved in society and it makes me feel like I’m not alone when I get comments or likes”. Another participant SC stated: “I’m interested in posting only some selfies on Instagram and some on social media because we will get some likes, and people like me are interested in posting only”.

These statements point out that many participants consider posting selfies as a way to prove that they are not alone but part of a larger society.

Creating memories

Taking or posting selfies can make people capture the memorable events they are engaged in and preserve them. Pictures can make people revisit their memories, whether it is good or bad, and help to improve, correct, or redo what they had enjoyed once.

As stated by participant KN, “It’s for keeping memories alive, like when I visit certain places or new places I wish t to click myself and keep it as a memory.” Participant AN also opined “I’ll take selfies, just to create memories, usually during some marriages or any functions when friends and family come together. To capture those special moments, I take selfies and post them”.

Many of the participants have also confirmed that on special occasions they take selfies, such as during wedding ceremonies, and other memorable events, when they visit new places, and particularly when they look beautiful, which creates a perfect memory image.

Obtaining feedback

Feedback can be in the form of reactions such as ‘likes’ and comments on selfie posts. Feedback can be positive or negative according to the individual’s subjective experience. It is one of the reasons for selfie posting according to the findings in the current study. Acceptance or admiration can motivate individuals to post more and more on social media.

As participant AG had stated, “The selfie which I click should convey that ‘look at me this is me in my everyday life, aren’t I awesome?’. And the people who look at my selfies should say or conclude that “Damn I wish to be like him”. According to Participant AN, “While posting a selfie, it gives motivation and some undefined feelings. It shows we are a big thing or we are doing a big job and like that and to show this to others we use social media”.

Feedback can play a prominent role in selfie-positing behaviour whether it gets repeated or not. The statements above show that likes and comments can make people feel engaged and not isolated from the social world. However, positive comments or more likes on a post can enhance positive feelings, or else it can cause the reverse effect, inducing negative psychological states like low self-esteem, low confidence, or depressive mood.

Boosting self-confidence

Taking or sharing selfies often promotes self-confidence in individuals as they perceive themselves as following the trend popular among peers, also improving the in-group feeling. Moreover, it tends to change the mood of the individuals positively.

For instance, a participant named KN reported, “You know when I see myself, I just want to be praised or to feel valued. I want to fit into the frame so that I’m in a higher rank than others, whatever it is, maybe like clothing, jewellery, cars, or self”.

Participant VZ explained, “And when I click a selfie, looking at it makes me feel good and it boosts and makes me gain my confidence. And it also makes me pass my time.”

Based on the responses it can be observed that many of the participants considered feedback on posted selfies as pleasant and rewarding. Participants found selfies boosting their self-confidence and believed that they could quickly change their mood, making them joyous.

Maintaining self-image

Self-image is the way the individual perceives or sees oneself, or the individual’s impression of ‘self’. It is evolved in the way the individual perceives the characteristics, personality, and skills of oneself. Poor self-image leads to diminished self-confidence, feelings of being unloved, or experience of rejection from the group. Therefore, self-image also influences the way people interact with others and the world around them.

As the participant, KP mentioned, “When I feel that I look good and beautiful, I will take a selfie and look at it again and again.” Participant SC shared, “I take selfies when I dress beautifully, or when I go somewhere out, or when I see a landscape that looks very impressive. I click many clicks but it will not exceed more than ten pictures at that particular time”.

Most of the participants take selfies to exhibit themselves in the social world. Combined with the need for positive feedback, this tendency will contribute to the development and maintenance of the person’s self-image.

Reasons for selfie-posting on social media

Sharing selfies on social networking sites has both merits and demerits in different dimensions, as reported by the participants. Five sub-themes emerged out of this major theme.

Enhancing human interaction

When an individual posts a selfie on social media they are interacting in the virtual world and communicating about their self and life. By such virtual interactions through self-promotion, self-representation, and status updates, individuals become able to receive as well as share information about themselves.

The major reason for posting selfies on social media as reported by participant AG:

“I like posting my selfies on social media like Instagram, Facebook, etc. It’s an easy way to update people about my life what I am doing etc. Also, it makes me feel better about myself.”

Similarly, participant KD stated that “we create a platform for others to know us. How we are what we are and our lifestyle. Only to show off. Posting selfies let us know about other people, especially about their current situation, achievements, hobbies, and the job they are doing”. Another participant SV opined that, “posting selfies on social media helps to share photography skills and talents as well but there are some demerits of posting selfies on social media because the information which is shared can be misused sometimes”.

Posting Selfies on social media enables people to create a platform to share, know about each other, and also to present their skills and talents in the form of a photograph. By keeping the demerits aside, it helps individuals to know about each other.

Preserving and upholding memories

Posting selfies on social media helps to store information on social networking sites or the cloud. It also helps to retrieve and recall important situations or occasions in their life, even if the device where the images are kept is lost or not functioning.

Similarly, Participant SC mentioned “Recently there was the bus strike, I stayed in the hostel so that I recalled all my memories and by seeing the pictures which I have in my Facebook gallery, at that time I felt happy”.

Posting selfies on social media not only helps to preserve and uphold the memories but also helps to recall and retrieve the moments, and help in rebuilding and reforming the relationships.

Socialization

People believe that the recognition and acceptance of a peer group make them feel that they are part of the community. Being a member of a social media platform helps people socialize. Socialization includes social acceptance, forming new relations, and redefining relationships.

Participant KN mentioned: “Posting makes me feel I’m fit enough to be in society.” Participant PD shared the opinion that “when other people see my post, I get a new friend request, if I know that person or if I have a mutual friend, I will accept it. That helps me to expand my friend circle and make new friends”.

Posting selfies on social media helps to establish new relations, strengthen relationships, and get updated about what is happening in other people’s lives. Also, sometimes it teaches the individual necessary social skills, soft skills, and netiquette, especially when selfie posting leads to personal interactions.

Impression formation

Some participants assume that posting good selfies frequently on social media can provide information about themselves to others. Some of the participants reported that they are more concerned about adding captions to the posts thinking that adding appropriate captions to the post often results in creating better impressions. Some participants also believe that posting good selfies on social media gives a chance to others to discuss the post owner’s appearance both in positive and negative ways.

As participant SC mentioned, “Selfies speak about lifestyle, the background of the selfies also tells about what do I prefer, what would I like, some selfies also tell about what I am doing currently and all that helps others to form an impression on me and establish a relationship.”

A participant named GB reported, “Selfies help to share my passion like fashion designing skills, when I am impressed by others’ dressing style, I try to do that model in different styles so that I can present myself as a model. Dressing style also matters to gain an impression about me among my friends”.

To develop a positive impression, participants are cautious to add an appropriate caption to their posts as participant VRR mentioned: “Even if it’s a common feeling, like anxiety, we would want them to make better and deep into people’s minds. I don’t feel that much anxiety while posting a picture but I get confused about what to write as a caption because I think what I write reflects my attitude and people can easily judge me”.

Expecting the desired outcome

Many participants stated that ‘likes’ and ‘good comments’ on previous posts increase their tendency to post more selfies on social media. Witnessing other people’s posts getting likes and comments also acts as a motivating factor for the participants to post their selfies online.

Participant AF said, “I usually post photos when I see my friend post a photo on Social media and get more likes, comments, and replies. I also tend to post my selfies to get more likes and comments, and to gain popularity”.

Some believe that people do not reveal their original identity to seek attention, and they mostly reject everything different from their reality. For example, participant SV stated that “to seek attention, certain people don’t reveal their real identity. Most of the time, the reality could be entirely different, some may feel unacceptable or unworthy in society with their real self. So, they are faking it, that’s it”.

People, if they do not get their desired outcome, delete the selfie posted on social media and might also block the accounts of people if they receive derogatory comments.

Impact of selfies on psychological facets

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, the term ‘picture’ is defined as a “description of a mental image or give an accurate idea of something”. Selfies are images used to convey one’s self to another individual [18]. The most common reason to take selfies is for self-representation. People who actively use Social Networking Sites (SNS) to post selfies tend to score high on shyness. Many individuals use social media to update their activities, events, and celebrations [2]. They seek involvement and interaction with their close ones to seek their attention by posting selfies or quotes.

Enhancing happiness

Participants claimed that they use social media when they are bored, to reflect on, and to seek happiness.

The participant PR stated: “I take selfies to feel happy and to have a positive mood. When I’m sad and if I get good comments for my post, it makes me happy”. Another participant SW stated that: “I would be happy to use and have an interaction through social media-yes of course. Because it makes me happy when I am sad and sometimes sad when I am happy”.

Self-satisfaction

Many participants got involved in social media activities for self-satisfaction. They engage in taking and posting selfies to satisfy their wishes by getting feedback. If they share notifications, present ideas, and share information, they believe that it will all lead to satisfaction.

Participant ML stated: “Sharing photos and information updates my knowledge and helps me to remain active and gives personal satisfaction”. Participant SW also said: “it quite makes me feel superior. I feel like I am somewhere at the top. I see myself as well-maintained and sophisticated quite often. Observing myself makes me feel loved and admired. Especially when I post a selfie on social media the comments enlighten me and I am more into me than anyone and anybody, I behave more mature on social platforms than I am”.

Sharing selfies and getting positive feedback about them gives some people self-satisfaction. And comparison of own lives with others often triggers lifestyle modifications to match it with others’.

Insecure feelings and negative emotion

Negative feedback on posted selfies or being unable to get trendy as they want often results in a disturbed state of mind that can prolong and affect daily life activities. Participants reported that frequent selfie-taking and posting often resulted in decreased self-esteem.

Participant ML stated: “When I look bad in my posted selfies, I feel insecure and the bad looks somehow get stuck on my head and when I go out in public and people stare at me, that picture keeps on popping up in my brain. It made me feel very distressed or insecure so I prefer to stay home. I started getting out when I felt that I looked good and confident walking on the street or like talking to other people”.

Participant SR also stated: “if somebody comments bad or disrespectful to my post, I would become angry and reply then and there itself. But with friends the matter is different, they won’t comment badly even if they do it would be just for fun”.

From the responses of the participants, it is evident that the comments and reactions can hurt their feelings. They depend heavily on other people’s opinions to experience happiness or distress.

Participant SR added that: “selfies impact not only our thoughts but related behaviour also. If there are better and more flattering comments for my selfie, I will be more enthusiastic and happier and sad and shy to post another selfie if otherwise”.

Participant SW explained, “When I take a selfie and it doesn’t come out the way I want it, it makes me sad and no matter how my environment is or who is with me, I just get mood off and it makes me irritated. To the extent that sometimes I fight with my siblings funny though”.

Influence of selfies on social relationships

Any relationship between two or more people is a social relationship or social interaction. In the work of sociologists such as Max Weber in his theory of social action, fundamental inquiries into the nature of social relations can be observed. Social interactions are made up of positive (affiliative) and negative (agonistic) interactions, representing opposing effects. A person spends time for recreational and fun activities as part of these social interactions. The current study results point out the influence of self-taking and positing behaviours on social relationships.

High social connections

When people post selfies of places, many people find it interesting, and some of them contact known or unknown people seeking more information about the same. It will make people happy when they get to know that their posts are attractive or interesting to others which strengthens such social bonds.

As stated by participant AF, “We post pictures of our trips so many people have asked about that place and showed interest in visiting that place. Thus. it increases the relationship with people. And helps in maintaining a healthy relationship with others. I recently posted a pic on Instagram; it got a good number of likes and comments. At that time, I felt happy because it was my pics and they were commenting it was good, it’s beautiful, yes. If it creates an impression about people then we may go and make reasons to talk to them and thus our contacts increase. And there will be flirting too”.

Participant PD also mentioned: “When other people see my post, I get a new friend request, if I know that person or if that person is a mutual friend I will accept it that helps me to expand my friend circle and make new friends”.

Isolation from family and friends due to social networking

The majority of the participants claimed that people who take selfies are often disconnected from society or even from their families as they get more involved in the virtual world. However, most of the participants perceive that they are in a rush to catch the moments and post them on social media so they can share their joy with others.

The response of participant AG was that “since I spent more time in taking selfies and posting it and I feel like I am attached with it, the moment I get up in the morning before talking to anyone the first thing I do is check my phone to see the likes or to edit or to take another selfie. Everywhere I go I tend to spend more time taking selfies instead of interacting with the people around me. About the expectation, I expect admiration and likes from my viewers and comments. Like I said, I expect people will be updated about stuff about me and around me”.

One thing a few of the participants agreed to was that people who take selfies obsessively, stay within the four walls post their selfies on social media are less conscious of what occurs in the external world, and slowly isolate themselves from their families and friends.

Similarly, participant KN also stated, “Yeah most probably when I take selfies. I tend to forget how to enjoy the moment and in a hurry to capture them. Since I get too busy taking my pictures, I tend to become self-centered and go about with what and how I want to take my picture. Sometimes I realize that I become socially distant since I get more focused on how many selfies I take, how I look, and where I post. But on the other side, I think selfies make me feel confident about myself and how I look and that helps me to go along with people in classes and other social activities that I attend”.

Developing an obsession for social praise

Some participants are very concerned about their appearance and embellishments because they value endorsements, admiration, and high status in society. People rate others based on the images they upload so that people are more fascinated with the way they look while competing with each other on who will get the most likes and comments.

Participant KN has stated, “You know when I see myself in photographs I just want to be praised or feel valued. I want to fit into the hierarchy and make other people feel that I’m in a higher rank, let the judgment be on whatever it is, maybe like clothing, jewellery, cars, or myself”.

Participant AG responded, “I become too obsessed with my beauty and there is a constant check on how much people like my selfies. And I think that’s how it affects my thoughts and my behaviour. And the need to reach a certain beauty standard that I keep for myself certainly hampers me”.

Tendency to be socially valued and recognized

Many participants reported their high need for social recognition and acceptance. Participant KN has stated that: “I want to feel valued and prized. So, the selfie which I click should say that “look at me this is me in my everyday life, aren’t I awesome?”. And the people who look at my selfies should say or conclude that “Damn I wish to be like him or her” So it’s like marketing myself to others to be accepted and valued. I often start imitating what I see in the selfies of the other celebrities or personalities that I admire like Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian”.

Another participant AG said that she became too obsessed with her beauty and there is a constant check on how much people like her selfies. She later added, “And I think that’s how selfies affect my thoughts and my behaviour. And the need to reach a certain beauty standard that I keep for myself certainly hampers me. Whenever I don’t get good selfies, I get frustrated, angry, and irritated”.

Summing up, the current study reveals that selfies help people develop more social networks and make them relate to others. It also makes people self-centered and more concerned about appearances than working toward progress and development. In short, there are both positive and negative outcomes of selfie-related behaviours.

Discussion

The current qualitative study was conducted to investigate why young adults take and post their selfies on social media and how it affects the social and psychological facets of their lives. According to Dollarhead [28], social networking was developed as a means of communicating with family and friends but was later embraced by businesses that decided to use a common new medium of communication to attract consumers. The strength of social networking is an opportunity to communicate and exchange knowledge concurrently with others.

Social networking is digital, allowing people to build their own online identities and exchange details and images with others on their social networks relative to traditional mainstream media [29]. Pew Research Center’s longitudinal poll showed that in the United States, people aged between 18 and 29 years who have exposure to the web are more likely to use social media and that women are more inclined to utilize social networking platforms than men [30]. Informatively or to update about one’s life activities, social media may be an insightful resource as the results of the current research show. It was found to be associated with information acquisition and relationship building that contributes to forming and maintaining social relationships. One of the most interesting findings is people’s tendency to “be in trend” or imitate what most others are doing. It has a strong influence over the lives of young people who are keen to post their selfies on social media regularly. This tendency can also be considered as the ‘bandwagon effect’, the tendency of people to do what others do, even if they have a view against it, but they still do it because others are doing the same. The more individuals who have a common pattern, the more probable it is that many will soon reach the bandwagon.

In general, public views on social networking and selfie-taking tend to be very optimistic, as long as the emotional and psychological dimensions of social media are not investigated and put in the limelight. The current study found that the majority of the population use selfie sharing as a means of showing what they are or that they are indeed what people expect them to be seen as. Selfie posting also aids in maintenance of the social status and to preservation of precious memories. This finding answers why people use social media platforms to maintain their self-esteem and self-confidence. Social media life is an easy way to prove that the person is living in a technology-enriched environment, and it is a way of sustaining relationships as well as showing others what is happening in life and even within families [31]. Increased Facebook use has been connected to lower self-esteem, weaker mental well-being, and issues with body perceptions [32].

The usage of social media can lead to physical attention. For example, ideologies linked to appearance can create psychological problems like low self-esteem [33,34,12] also noted that people also picked their pictures online to appear as attractive as possible without being deluded. It is also found that people with certain personality traits like narcissism, appear to be more arrogant in commenting, selfish, and conscious in posting pictures [35,36].

The current research found that self-esteem is generally related to selfie-posting behaviour and participants reported that taking selfies enhances their self-esteem. The study also found how narcissism comes into play directly or indirectly, as a participant quoted “My selfies should say I’m awesome and I should be valued” Along with this also comes loneliness, self-centeredness, and attention-seeking behaviour that has been highlighted.

Selfies are a contemporary, increasingly common form of digitally generated self-expression for many young adults with the emergence of digital technologies. Selfies show a person at his or her best and that is how the person enters the world of self-obsession or self-admiration which can become harmful.

Finding fulfilment is another reason why selfies are becoming such a focal point in young adults’ lives. The need to be accepted or be a part of society becomes very significant when one reaches young adulthood and selfies offer a portal through which ordinary people with minimal effort may accomplish the extraordinary. The study shows that uploading a selfie on social media offers a pathway for communicating and exchanging knowledge regarding their current status with others, which allows them to create new links with people positively. Based on SUNY University’s report, uploading one’s selfies and seeing others is also a way of engaging and interacting with others which is similar to the current findings. Posting selfies helps people to get social support and social acceptance in society. It benefits people to gain public support and also to gain a good impression on others. As mentioned in the study conducted by SUNY University, these types of people are known as self-publicists and keep on posting on social media to double the opportunity for social recognition and social support [37].

The main findings as discussed above are the social and psychological impacts of selfie-related behaviours. Many studies have demonstrated the positive relationship between the use of Facebook, the amount of Facebook friends as well as public knowledge sharing [3841]. The current study found that selfie-taking can lead to both positive and negative impacts on social aspects specifically based on individual characteristics and the intensity of the selfie behaviour. The dark side of social media exposed by the study finding is that negative comments and feedback will lead to pessimistic thoughts, and if one gets less attention or derogatory feedback, it can lead to personal intimidation and reduced self-esteem [42].

Another drawback of excessive selfie-taking and posting is social isolation. The obsession with selfie-taking gradually makes people more and more self-centered, diverting them from personal interactions, therefore leading to social isolation. The study by Shin et al. [43] reports that taking and sharing selfies could result in greater social insensitivity.

The majority of the participants claimed they are disconnected from society or even from their families because of the overuse of social media. In a rush to catch the moments and post them on social media, they forget to enjoy the moments and spend quality time with themselves and their loved ones. This will gradually separate them from their friends and family. Many participants shared their opinion that social media is an easily accessible platform for social interactions and selfie posting generally contributes to their better mood. When people feel down and they open social media, the number of likes and positive feedback makes them happy. But instead of positive feedback if there are more negative or no responses what would happen is a worsened bad mood [28].

Selfies can still have a major influence on psychological health, based on the context and how they respond to the feedback. Balakrishnan et al. [7] found that the incentive of young adults to take a selfie was distinct, with some based on a change in mood. Not just mood, but also a degree of dissatisfaction, shame, frustration, and other negative psychological states will often accompany selfie-related behaviours.

The benefits of social media should not be ignored given the adverse consequences. One of the greatest benefits of the social networking platforms is that it allows interactions and connections all over the world. The emergence of selfies also places individuals increasingly in a position to monitor how they are viewed in a larger social group, making citizens increasingly mindful of themselves, which can also be healthy. However, for some others, it may make them feel more vulnerable and incompetent.

Conclusion

People post selfies on social media to communicate about their status in life, to make an impression, to preserve personal memories on social media accounts, to seek attention from others, and because it generally feels rewarding. Among these, social acceptance was one of the most common reasons identified. This study also denotes that the sharing of selfies on social media has a major impact on people’s social lives, often in a negative way. As a result of this emerging trend, some people experience social alienation, become self-centered, experience mood swings based on the feedback received for their posts, and tend to be more concerned about their looks than the resolution of problems or personal growth and development. On the other hand, being on social media helps people develop more social networks and makes them relate to others. Overall, it can be concluded that social media, if it is optimally used, may yield benefits, or else it may endanger one’s social as well as psychological quality of life.

Acknowledgement: The authors appreciate the support of participants in data collecting.

Funding Statement: The authors received no specific funding for this study.

Author Contributions: The authors confirm contribution to the paper as follows: study conception and design: Divya P. Vijayan, Tokani Ghuhato, Eslavath Rajkumar; data collection: Divya P. Vijayan, Tokani Ghuhato; analysis and interpretation of results: Divya P. Vijayan, Tokani Ghuhato, Eslavath Rajkumar, Allen Joshua George; draft manuscript preparation: Divya P. Vijayan, Tokani Ghuhato, Eslavath Rajkumar, Allen Joshua George, Romate John, John Abraham. All authors reviewed the results and approved the final version of the manuscript.

Availability of Data and Materials: The dataset corresponding to the current study is available upon reasonable request.

Ethics Approval: The permit to conduct the study was approved by the Department of Psychology, Central University of Karnataka. All participants signed the informed consent in this study.

Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest to report regarding the present study.

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Cite This Article

APA Style
Vijayan, D.P., Ghuhato, T., Rajkumar, E., George, A.J., John, R. et al. (2024). Exploring the reasons for selfie-taking and selfie-posting on social media with its effect on psychological and social lives: A study among indian youths. International Journal of Mental Health Promotion, 26(5), 389-398. https://doi.org/10.32604/ijmhp.2024.023032
Vancouver Style
Vijayan DP, Ghuhato T, Rajkumar E, George AJ, John R, Abraham J. Exploring the reasons for selfie-taking and selfie-posting on social media with its effect on psychological and social lives: A study among indian youths. Int J Ment Health Promot. 2024;26(5):389-398 https://doi.org/10.32604/ijmhp.2024.023032
IEEE Style
D.P. Vijayan, T. Ghuhato, E. Rajkumar, A.J. George, R. John, and J. Abraham "Exploring the Reasons for Selfie-Taking and Selfie-Posting on Social Media with Its Effect on Psychological and Social Lives: A Study among Indian Youths," Int. J. Ment. Health Promot., vol. 26, no. 5, pp. 389-398. 2024. https://doi.org/10.32604/ijmhp.2024.023032


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