A few years ago, there was a story saying that taking too many selfies means you have a mental disorder named “selfitis”. It turned out to be a hoax, but now it’s actually confirmed – obsessive selfie-taking is a mental disorder and an addictive behavior. The fake news inspired psychologist to actually research the phenomenon, and they came to some interesting conclusions related to excessive selfie-taking.
Researchers from Nottingham Trent University and Thiagarajar School of Management studied a group of 400 individuals from India. They chose this country because it has the highest rate of selfie-related deaths, so I’d say the choice was pretty logical.
The researchers developed a Selfitis Behavior Scale to determine how strong the condition is. According to the results, selfitis occurs more commonly in men than women: 57.5% of male and 42.5% female participants had this disorder. Then, 34% participants were found to have borderline selfitis, 40.5% had acute, and chronic selfitis hit 25.5% people from the focus group. Not surprisingly, the age group of 16 to 20-years-old was hit by selfitis most (56%). They’re followed by 21 to 25-year-olds (34%), and those over 25 appear less likely to have this disorder. The majority of participants said they take between one and four selfies a day and post them on social media at least once a day.
According to the study, there are several factors related to selfitis. People who obsessively take selfies and post them on social media seek attention, want to conform to their group or want to enhance their environment. They also take and post selfies for social competition or to improve their mood. Finally, they are likely to use selfies to boost their self-confidence.
One of the researchers, Dr. Janarthanan Balakrishnan told the New York Post that those with selfitis typically suffer from a lack of self-confidence. Consequently, they are trying to “fit in” with those around them, and even “may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviors.” He hopes that further research will be carried out about selfitis. According to him, it could help us understand more about the reasons behind this behavior and the ways to help those who are most affected.
Personally, I’ve always believed there must be some underlying mental issue connected with obsessively taking and posting selfies. And like Dr. Balakrishnan, I also hope further research will be conducted on this topic. I’m not surprised by the findings that the young are more affected by selfitis. I am surprised, however, that men are more affected than women (at least in this study). My Instagram and Twitter feed have way more selfies of girls than guys. After all, women are generally expected to look good and display themselves in the best light, so I assume they are more likely to need a boost of self-confidence.
Now, do you think you might suffer from selfitis? Or someone you know, perhaps? The researchers created a set of 20 questions that can help you determine whether selfitis hits you and to which extent. Answer these questions by grading them 1 to 5 (1 = strongly disagree, 5 = strongly agree). The higher the score, the greater the likelihood of selfitis:
- Taking selfies gives me a good feeling to better enjoy my environment
- Sharing my selfies creates healthy competition with my friends and colleagues
- I gain enormous attention by sharing my selfies on social media
- I am able to reduce my stress level by taking selfies
- I feel confident when I take a selfie
- I gain more acceptance among my peer group when I take selfie and share it on social
- I am able to express myself more in my environment through selfies
- Taking different selfie poses helps increase my social status
- I feel more popular when I post my selfies on social media
- Taking more selfies improves my mood and makes me feel happy
- I become more positive about myself when I take selfies
- I become a strong member of my peer group through selfie postings
- Taking selfies provides better memories about the occasion and the experience
- I post frequent selfies to get more ‘likes’ and comments on social media
- By posting selfies, I expect my friends to appraise me
- Taking selfies instantly modifies my mood
- I take more selfies and look at them privately to increase my confidence
- When I don’t take selfies, I feel detached from my peer group
- I take selfies as trophies for future memories
- I use photo editing tools to enhance my selfie to look better than others
You can find these questions and a more detailed explanation at the end of the research paper. How was your score?