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Why Do We Like Taking Selfies, But Can’t Stand Other People Taking Selfies?

Why Do We Like Taking Selfies, But Can’t Stand Other People Taking Selfies?


There is actually a term for that -- selfie paradox. And it is coined by Sarah Diefenbach, a psychology professor who, along with colleague Lara Christoforakos, recently endeavored to learn more about why today’s mobile users are taking more selfies than ever, while at the same time, admitting that maybe taking selfies is kinda overrated.

Diefenbach and Christoforakos both hail from Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich in Germany, and they recently published their findings in the Frontiers in Psychology journal, making a claim that, yup, the selfie paradox is real. In their study, the research partners examined 238 mobile users based in three countries -- namely their homeland Germany, as well as Austria and Switzerland. The study was accomplished by way of an online poll.

And now the results of that survey -- 77 percent of those surveyed fully admit that they take selfies regularly. 62 to 67 percent have believed that the selfies they took could have potentially negative consequences. What kind of negative consequences are referred here? One example is consequence of feeling bad about themselves, especially when after taking a selfie, they immediately compare their shots to that of their favorite Instagram user, for instance. Making things interesting is that 82 percent of the respondents claimed that they would rather see any other kind of image rather than see another selfie being posted on social media. 

The results show that we do love taking selfies (and sharing them), but not so much seeing other people do the same. So why is this happening? According to the researchers, it is possible that most people see other selfies as less real than their own. In other words, people have the tendency to treat their selfies as real, while those from other people as just plain showing off. 

Perhaps the more interesting question is: will knowing (and accepting) we are guilty of the selfie paradox change anything? This is a lot trickier to answer, and may require another series of studies. Indeed, for any user, it is hard to gauge sometimes if you are overdoing this selfie thing, or merely just, you know, having fun (or as they say, only testing the full image capturing capabilities of one’s mobile device). 

One month ago, we reported about another study on selfies that was conducted by students from the Brigham Young University. The results of that study show that there are three types of selfie takers -- the communicators, the autobiographers, and the self publicists. For more on that, check out this earlier post.