Selfie Abundance Suggests Narcissism, Psychopathy

January 8, 2015
Meghan Ross, Associate Editor

If Patrick Bateman from American Psycho had an Instagram account, his feed would probably be full of selfies.

If Patrick Bateman from American Psycho had an Instagram account, his feed would probably be full of selfies.

A new study found that men obsessed with selfies rank higher on measures of narcissism and psychopathy.

The study, published in Personality and Individual Differences, analyzed 800 men aged 18 to 40 years and their answers to a survey about their use of photos on social media, plus questionnaires about antisocial behavior and self-objectification.

Jesse Fox, lead study author and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University, and Margaret Rooney, a graduate student at Ohio State, found that men who edited their selfies with filters, editing software, or cropping tools also scored higher on narcissism and self-objectification scores, as well. However, psychopathy was not related to editing selfies.

“That makes sense because psychopathy is characterized by impulsivity. They are going to snap the photos and put them online right away,” Fox said in an Ohio State press release. “They want to see themselves. They don’t want to spend time editing.”

Self-objectification, Fox warned, is associated with depression and eating disorders among women. The danger of self-objectification and selfies is that posting photos online can lead to positive feedback from peers, and this may encourage even more selfies, Fox noted.

The findings did not include women because the authors did not have a comparable data set to use, but Fox noted that she is in the process of conducting more research to suggest similar findings for women.

Fox discouraged the belief that all men who post selfies are narcissists or psychopaths. Rather, the current findings demonstrated that the men in the study manifested normal behavior but had higher than average levels of antisocial traits.