The psychological and sociological implications of selfies have been a subject of contention for quite some time. A report by NBC’s Today Show states that researchers at the University of Georgia are working on a study of selfies based on the input of 300 participants, set to conclude sometime this month.
The Today Show report included a quote from University of Georgia professor of psychology Keith Campbell, who said that selfies will be taken in the university lab and be rated by people in an attempt to detect narcissism.
Shepherd University developmental psychology professor Dr. Anne Murtagh said that she believes many people were once of the opinion that selfies carried negative connotations, but now that is not so much the case. Murtagh said that she does not take selfies regularly. “It’s my personal opinion that it is more of a generational thing,” she said.
“There was initially a lot of talk where people said that taking a lot of selfies was a sign of narcissism, but I don’t think that is the case anymore. I think that it has become a new form of communication,” Murtagh said. She clarified that she was stating her personal opinions on the matter, as she is not currently involved in any form of research on selfies.
Illustrating the cultural significance of the selfie, Today Show correspondent Gabe Gutierrez stated in his report that everyone from celebrities to the president have been taking selfies and that a selfie from daytime television personality Ellen DeGeneres is the most retweeted photograph on Twitter. “Based on previous research (Dr. Campbell) says, there are three main reasons people take selfies,” reported Gutierrez. “One: self-absorption, two: social connection and three: art.”
Assistant professor of sociology Dr. Chiquita Howard-Bostic said that she believes selfies are popular right now because of the rise of social media as a means of communication.
“Selfies are social media-driven behavior,” she said. “They are a sort of trendy set of communicative behaviors.”
Howard-Bostic went on to say that she believes there are some positives that can come from selfies.
“It’s my opinion that selfies can serve as self-esteem boosters, and they can also enlighten others to situations,” Howard-Bostic said. She also stated that selfies create an interesting dynamic relationship between people and events. “You can take a picture of a place or event, and seeing that picture will evoke certain feelings,” she said, “but taking a selfie makes you a part of what is going on in the picture. It establishes a relationship and gives the person in the picture a sense of meaning or inclusion; it is visual proof that they were part of something.”
While Gabe Gutierrez concludes his report by saying that selfies are here to stay, Dr. Howard-Bostic is not so sure.
“I think that because selfies are so linked to social media, they are a trend that will die down,” she said. “Who knows what the new thing will be in the next few years.”
Only time will tell who has the right idea.