Scientists discover the true meaning of selfies – and why we all take them | Science and technology news
When the world’s first photographic self-portrait was taken nearly 200 years ago by pioneering American Robert Cornelius, the selfie was born.
Now millions of them are taken every day and uploaded to social media sites like Instagramwhere audience engagement through clicks, likes, and comments is believed to be the snapper’s motivation.
But researchers at Ohio State University now says that those who take their own photos don’t necessarily do it out of vanity — but because selfies capture the “greater meaning of a moment.”
Meanwhile, ego photos, in which we see the scene as if with our own eyes, best represent the physical experience of that moment. An example of this is a photo of an ocean depicting a beautiful day.
The study, published in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science, contradicts the popular belief that selfies are only for self-promotion.
Co-author and Ohio State psychology professor Lisa Libby said, “These photos with you in them can document the greater meaning of a moment. It doesn’t have to be vanity.”
In one of the six studies conducted to reach this conclusion, participants were asked to read a scenario in which a picture could be taken, such as a day at the beach with a friend, and then read the importance and meaning to evaluate the experience.
The more participants rated the importance of the event to them, the more likely they were to say they would take a selfie.
In another experiment, participants opened their recent Instagram posts with one of their photos. They were asked if they were trying to capture the larger meaning or the physical experience of the moment with this photo.
They then rated how they felt about the photo on a scale from negative to positive.
First state to pass law requiring parental consent for under-18s to use social media
Three dietary factors are most responsible for the increase in type 2 diabetes
Professor Libby said: “We found that when there was a mismatch between the perspective of the photo and their goal in taking the photograph, people didn’t like their photograph that much.”
For example, when they said their goal was to capture the meaning of the event, they liked the photo better if it was in third person and they were in the picture.
The study’s lead author, Zachary Niese, said: “We found that people have a natural intuition about the perspective they need to take in order to capture what they want from the photo.
“I hope this study will increase people’s knowledge of how photo perspective affects how they react to photos. That way, they can ensure that they are consciously choosing the perspective that achieves their goal.”