The word "selfie" has already been officially added to the dictionary, and the art of taking selfies seems to be ubiquitous with the social media experience these days. The fad might seem innocent enough, but a new study suggests it comes with some real social consequences too.
Florida State University researchers Jessica Ridgway and Russell Clayton investigated frequent selfie posters on Instagram, and found that these users often struggled in their relationships despite demonstrating confidence in their body image.
Romantic conflicts among heavy selfie posters tended to revolve around jealous arguments and concerns about how much attention others were paying to the pictures. Partners of obsessive selfie posters also tended to spend excessive amounts of time monitoring likes and comments on their lovers' status updates and social media activity, which caused jealous feelings to escalate. This fostered negative communication that often led to breakups and cheating.
In other words, taking too many selfies can lead others to call your faithfulness into question. Given that taking selfies is generally viewed as attention-seeking behavior, perhaps this shouldn't come as a surprise. Though the study revealed that it wasn't just the partners of selfie-posters that complained of dissatisfaction in relationships. The selfie-posters themselves reported less satisfaction as well, despite finding gratification in their selfie-taking behavior.
Previous research has shown that negative personality traits such as narcissism and psychopathy tend to be associated with increased sharing of images of one’s self. Since people with these personality traits also tend to have poor relationships, it's unclear whether excessive selfie-taking is itself a cause of the relationship problems reported in this study, or if it's just another symptom of the associated personality tendencies. Further research will be needed to make these distinctions.
Even so, perhaps this research ought to be a wake-up call about what your selfies say about you and how they might affect your relationships. If you find your selfie addiction is causing arguments with partners, perhaps it's time to re-evaluate whether the ego boost is worth the cost.