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Selfie posting, is it addiction, vanity or self-confidence




With the prevalence of camera-equipped smartphones the posting of selfies has reached epidemic levels - even the funerals of national leaders aren't exempt.
But is there a psychological fall-out?
A new study by Florida State University academics Jessica Ridgway and Russell Clayton found that people who were more satisfied with their body image posted more selfies to Instagram - confidently showing off, you might say.
But in turn, they reported experiencing more conflict with their romantic partners - such as jealous arguments about attention So, does this mean that Instagram selfies are bad for relationships?
The study's authors speculate that when one partner frequently posts attractive selfies, the other partner may feel jealous or threatened. This may lead to excessive monitoring of the other's Instagram feed, which means they see even more of the attention the photos receive from followers. This could potentially lead to greater conflict, cheating, or a break-up.
While the study didn't directly measure this sort of monitoring behaviour, the other research has revealed how social media surveillance of a romantic partner is associated with greater jealousy, insecurity, and dissatisfaction in relationships.
Another way to account for the potentially relationship-damaging effects of posting selfies is that they may simply alienate other people. There is a tendency for people to report less intimacy and emotional support in their relationships with people who are selfie-posting addicts. People may withdraw from these relationships because they perceive the excessive selfie-posting as indicative of a narcissistic streak.
Narcissism is characterised by grandiose self-regard, a need for attention and admiration, vanity, a sense of entitlement and an exploitative attitude towards others. Narcissists' preoccupation with their body image and craving to be admired could be why they are more addicted to posting selfies.
Along these lines, one study found that narcissistic men posted more selfies and were also more likely to use photo-editing software or filters to make themselves look better. Other studies have found a link between narcissism and selfie-obsession in both men and women. Narcissists don't just post more selfies, they also post more Facebook status updates about their diet or exercise routine, consistent with their preoccupation with their physical appearance.
But alongside their vain and attention-seeking behaviour, narcissists also tend to experience poorer-quality relationships. A recent study found that couples reported a greater decline in relationship quality over the first four years of their marriage when the wife was a narcissist
Marshall is a Lecturer in Psychology, Brunel University London
Khabza Mkhize

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