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ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 123-129  Table of Contents     

Correlation of motivations for selfie-posting behavior with personality traits


Department of Psychiatry, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Date of Submission18-Apr-2019
Date of Acceptance19-Aug-2019
Date of Web Publication11-Dec-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Jaideep Kishore Patil
Department of Psychiatry, Dr. D. Y. Patil Medical College, Dr. D.Y. Patil Vidyapeeth, Pimpri - 411 018, Pune, Maharashtra
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ipj.ipj_30_19

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   Abstract 


Background: The widespread popularity of selfie-posting behavior has led to increasing academic interest in exploring psychological determinants for this behavior. Aim: The study aimed to evaluate sociodemographic factors, personality traits, and psychological motivations associated with selfie-posting behavior and to evaluate the association of psychological motivations for selfie-posting with personality traits. Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study assessed 727 medical and physiotherapy students with a semi-structured questionnaire consisting of information about sociodemographic factors, selfie-posting, and editing behavior, the Big Five Inventory and motivations for selfie-posting scale. Results: There was a positive correlation of female gender, extraversion, and agreeableness with selfie-posting and editing and a negative correlation of neuroticism with both types of behavior. Communication was the most common motivation for selfie-posting followed by attention seeking. Extraverted people post selfies for attention seeking, communication, and archiving motive while agreeable individuals post them only for communication and archiving. Conclusion: Females as well as individuals with high extraversion and agreeableness engage in selfie-posting and selfie-editing more frequently while neurotic individuals tend to avoid engaging this behavior. Motivation for posting selfies most commonly was for communication followed by attention seeking. Individuals with different personalities use selfies differently to fulfill their inner psychological needs.

Keywords: Agreeableness, communication, extraversion, neuroticism, selfie editing


How to cite this article:
Chaudhari BL, Patil JK, Kadiani A, Chaudhury S, Saldanha D. Correlation of motivations for selfie-posting behavior with personality traits. Ind Psychiatry J 2019;28:123-9

How to cite this URL:
Chaudhari BL, Patil JK, Kadiani A, Chaudhury S, Saldanha D. Correlation of motivations for selfie-posting behavior with personality traits. Ind Psychiatry J [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Jan 23];28:123-9. Available from: http://www.industrialpsychiatry.org/text.asp?2019/28/1/123/272686



Over the past few years, the use of social networking sites (SNSs) (e.g. Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram, and Twitter) has increased exponentially worldwide.[1],[2] Social networking has become a major means of communication and information sharing in the present society. Apart from its primary purpose of information sharing, social networking has also become a major platform for social interactions and relationship building for its users. It is being preferentially used for this purpose than face-to-face interactions probably because it provides individuals with a unique mode of self-expression and self-presentation in a more self-controlled manner.[3],[4]

Photosharing on SNSs has added up new dimensions in this self-presentation. Pictorial or visual representation of self by online photosharing has been recognized as more effective way of self-expression as compared to the textual representation of self.[5] Self presentation by photosharing is the quick method of providing a lot of information. It is modifiable and editable so that information will be presented in a more selective and desirable manner.[6] This provides opportunities for individuals to build identity of self which is not possible for them in face-to-face interactions. With all these reasons, photosharing on SNSs has become increasingly tempting among SNSs' users.

Nowadays, the use of smartphones has become an integral part of daily lifestyles of many people. With advances in smartphone technology and improved speed of mobile Internet, taking photos of self or group of people and sharing them online have become increasingly easy and quick. Taking selfies and groupies and posting them on SNSs have become an important part of online social experience. Millions of smartphone users are regularly posting millions selfies everyday on SNSs to express their personalities, lifestyles, and preferences. In fact, the number of selfies taken and shared online each day is approximately 93 million.[7]

Given the pervasiveness of selfie-posting behavior, there has been increasing academic interest to explore the predictors of this online behavior. Various sociodemographic and psychological factors have been shown to influence the individual's choice of social media and also individual's behavior on that social media.[8],[9] Hence, these factors have also been explored with regard to selfie-posting behavior. Researchers have particularly focused on trait predictors associated with this peculiar online behavior. Some of the personality traits have been shown to be associated with selfie-posting behavior. Specific association of narcissism with selfie-posting behavior has been highlighted by various researchers.[10],[11],[12] Previous research has shown that selfie-posting behavior is a form of online self-presentation and self-promotion.[13] Hence, it is understandable that individuals with high narcissistic traits may reasonably use selfie-posting as a way to fulfill their need to gain others' attention and admiration to preserve their own fragile self-image. As selfie-posting behavior has been hypothesized by researchers as self-promoting and attention-seeking act, histrionic personality traits also have been studied in relation to selfie-posting. Sorokowski et al.[14] have found the relationship of histrionic personality traits with selfie-posting behavior, but it was significant only for males.

For exploring the relationship of personality traits with online behaviors, researchers have commonly used the five-factor model of personality traits in which personality traits have been classified into five dimensions: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience.[15] The dimension of extraversion is characterized by the personality features such as outgoing, enthusiastic, sociable, and self-confident nature. Agreeableness is characterized by the tendency to be compassionate, cooperative, and trusting. Conscientiousness refers to features such as being organized, dependable, and disciplined. Neuroticism indicates emotional instability and susceptibility to stress while openness to experience shows individual's degree of curiosity and tendency to seek out creative and new experiences.

The five-factor model of personality traits has also been used to study online photosharing behavior. Extraversion has particularly shown to be linked to more photo uploads on Facebook.[16] Some researchers have also shown the association of agreeableness and neuroticism with more Facebook photo uploads.[17] Agreeable users have also been shown to be more concerned about “likes” and “comments” on their profile pictures.[16] Studies concerning particularly selfie posting also have shown the relationship of high extraversion and agreeableness with a more number of selfie posting.[18],[19] However, these studies are quite scarce and have shown variable results regarding these personality traits and selfie-posting behavior.

Since people use various social media to gratify their psychological needs, their choice of certain media and their behavior on that media would likely be influenced by their psychological motivations apart from their personality traits. These motivations can play more important role in predicting selfie-posting behavior than personality traits as they are the more proximal cause of the behavior.[20],[21] Sung et al.[22] have studied motivations for selfie-posting and found principally four different types of motivations behind selfie-posting: attention seeking, communication, archiving, and entertainment. Attention-seeking motivation includes posting selfies to attract the attention of others and seek affirmation of self-image from others. Communication motive includes posting selfies for building and maintaining social relationships. Archiving represents individual's intention to document specific events while entertainment motive indicates that individual posts selfies to seek refreshment or escape from boredom.

As these motivations are more proximal cause of behavior, these motivations may act as mediator between personality traits and selfie-posting behavior. Moreover, these different motivations may relate differently with different personality traits. However, this relationship between psychological motivations for selfie posting and personality traits has not been explored previously. Hence, we planned this study to evaluate sociodemographic factors, personality traits, and psychological motivations associated with selfie-posting behavior and to evaluate the association of psychological motivations for selfie-posting with personality traits.


   Materials and Methods Top


A cross-sectional analytical study was carried out among undergraduate medical (MBBS) students and undergraduate physiotherapy (Bachelor of Physiotherapy [BPT]) students studying in colleges situated in an urban area of western Maharashtra state after approval from the Institutional Ethics committee. A total of 750 students were included in the study. Students were enrolled by convenience sampling from each college. Informed consent was sought from each participant before their involvement in the study. Participants were assured that the information given by them would be anonymous and confidential to avoid reporting bias.

The data were collected using following self-administered semi-structured questionnaire and scales:

  1. Sociodemographic information – basic information about age, gender, educational status, and family information were collected
  2. Selfie-posting behaviors – The participants were asked to rate their selfie-posting frequencies on a Likert scale from 1 = never to 5 = always. They were also asked to rate the frequency of editing selfies (e.g. cropping and using filters) before posting them online on the same Likert scale
  3. Big-Five Inventory (BFI) – Personality traits were measured using the BFI.[15] The BFI scale assesses personality traits in five dimensions: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, and openness to experience. The scale has been used quite frequently in previous research. The scale has a clear factor structure and each subscale has satisfactory reliability.[23] The scale has total 44 items related to five dimensions. During assessment, participants had to rate each item on a five-point Likert scale (1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree) depending upon the extent to which personality characteristics apply to themselves
  4. Motivations for selfie-posting – Psychological motivations for selfie-posting were assessed using a scale developed by Sung et al.[22] It contains questions related to four principal types of selfie-posting motivations: attention seeking (six items, e.g. “To attract attention”), communication (five items, e.g. “To keep in touch with friends”), archiving (five items, e.g. “To record a specific moment”), and entertainment (three items, e.g. “To pass the time”). Response options were ranging between 1 (strongly disagree) and 7 (strongly agree).


Data analysis

Statistical analysis of the collected data was performed using the SPSS 21 software software (IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Armonk, NY: IBM Corp). The Chi-square test was applied for evaluating the association of qualitative variables such as selfie behavior with sex, and the ANOVA test was applied to analyze quantitative variables such as association of age with selfie behavior. Association of personality with selfie behavior was done using the Kruskal–Wallis test, and significance of difference between different selfie-posting and selfie-editing frequency groups was tested with the Mann–Whitney U test. For comparison of different motivations for selfie-posting, first, the scores of each motivation subscale were averaged according to the number of items in subscale, and then Kruskal–Wallis test and then Mann–Whitney U test were used to compare different motivations with one another. For analysis of relation between personality and motivation, correlational analysis was done using Spearman's correlation. P < 0.05 was considered as statistically significant for all statistical correlations.


   Results Top


Of 750 questionnaires distributed, 23 were discarded as they were not completely filled. Hence, a total of 727 questionnaires were taken up for further analysis. Of 727 students, 439 (60.39%) students were from MBBS (Medical) course, whereas 288 (39.61%) students were from BPT (Physiotherapy) course. Total male students were 300, (41.27%) whereas total female students were 427 (58.73%). The mean age of the study sample was 21.37 ± 1.55, the range being 19–25 years.

Analysis of the questionnaire revealed that of 727 participants, 382 (52.54%) rarely or never post selfies on social media, 200 (27.51%) participants post selfie occasionally, whereas 145 (19.94%) participants often or always post selfies. Four hundred and seventy-nine (65.89%) participants edit their selfies never or rarely before posting those on social media, whereas 176 (24.21%) edit selfies occasionally and 72 (9.90%) edit selfies often or always.

For simplifying analysis of selfie-posting frequency and selfie-editing frequency, five categories of Likert scale were clubbed together into the following three categories – the first category combining never and rarely options, the second category for occasionally option, whereas the third category combining often and always options. When this selfie-related behaviors were correlated with age and gender, we found no correlation with age of participants (selfie-posting P = 0.84 and selfie-editing P = 0.53), but females were found to post selfies (P = 0.02) and edit them (P = 0.04) more frequently as compared to males. The correlation of selfie-posting and selfie-editing behavior with big-five personality traits revealed positive correlation with extraversion (P < 0.001) and agreeableness (P < 0.001), while negative correlation with neuroticism (P < 0.001) [Table 1] and [Table 2].
Table 1: Association of selfie-posting with age, sex, and personality factors

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Table 2: Association of selfie-editing with age, sex, and personality factors

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When different motivations for selfie-posting were compared with one another, we found communication to be the most frequent motivation followed by attention seeking (P < 0.001) [Table 3].
Table 3: Motivations for selfie posting

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When the correlation of personality traits and motivations for selfie-posting was done, we found extraverted people post selfies for attention seeking (P < 0.001), communication (P < 0.001), and archiving (P < 0.001). Agreeable people post selfies for communication (P < 0.001) and archiving (P < 0.001). Neuroticism had a negative correlation with attention seeking (P < 0.001), communication (P < 0.001), and archiving motivation (P < 0.001) [Table 4].
Table 4: Correlation of personality factors with motivations for selfie-posting

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   Discussion Top


This study explored the sociodemographic and psychological determinants for selfie-posting behavior, including personality traits and psychological motivations for selfie-posting. As previous research indicated that selfie-posting is a peculiar form of selective self-presentation,[13] we examined different psychological needs or motivations behind this peculiar type of activity. We also assessed which particular types of motivations compel individuals with certain personality characteristics to engage in selfie-posting.

A major finding of our study was that females were more likely to engage in selfie-related activities, including selfie-posting and selfie-editing. This finding was consistent with the previous research on this topic.[11],[18] As the previous research suggests, selfies are used as a way of self-presentation. Gender would influence this way of self-presentation. Researchers have shown that females tend to present themselves as attractive and part of a social group.[24] This type of self-representation is possible with selfies as selfies would provide females with an opportunity to experiment with their looks and project themselves more attractive.[25]

Extraversion and agreeableness were found to be associated with selfie-posting behaviors. Extraverts are more enthusiastic and sociable people while agreeable individuals are oriented toward others. These individuals are more socially active. They have more friends on SNSs.[17] Hence, it is likely that these individuals post selfies more frequently to keep friends up-to-date about themselves. We also found extraversion and agreeableness to be associated with selfie-editing. Editing of selfie before posting it on social media is done mainly to present it in a more desirable manner. As both extraverts and agreeable individuals are socially conscious, they may involve in selfie-editing more frequently. As it is known that extraverts enjoy social attention,[26] it is quiet logical for them to edit selfies to present themselves in more socially desirable and appreciable manner. Agreeable individuals also have been found in one of the previous research to attract more attention by getting a higher number of likes and comments on their Facebook profile picture.[16] Hence, it is also possible for agreeable individuals to edit their selfies for getting social appreciation.

We found that individuals with high neurotic traits were less involved in selfie-posting and selfie-editing behavior as compared to those with low neuroticism. Our finding may seem contradictory to other research findings concerning the relationship between neuroticism and social media use which stressed that neurotic individuals tend to prefer online communication as compared to face-to-face communication.[27] However, as Ross et al.[28] have found in their research, neurotic individuals tend to avoid posting photos on social media and rather prefer communicating with others through textual messages. Neurotic individuals are self-conscious individuals. They are more likely to control what information is shared about themselves.[29] For them, online photosharing may be like inadvertently sharing information about their emotional state which may be perceived as threatening by them. Probably, this may be the reason for which neurotic individuals tend to avoid engaging in selfie-related behaviors.

Among different motivations for selfie-posting, we found that selfies were posted most commonly for communication. Previous research on online photosharing behavior has shown that online photosharing may help people fulfill their social interaction needs.[30],[31] Posting photos online allow individuals to express their feelings, emotions, and thoughts. It may provide a starting point for initiating communication with individuals having similar interests and built up social interactions.[32] Attention seeking was also the important motivation behind selfie-posting. As we know selfie is one of the methods of self-promotion and impression management, people use photosharing to gratify their needs such as getting feedback, public approval, and recognition.[30],[33]

The study revealed that individuals with high extraversion traits post selfies for attention seeking, communication as well as archiving purpose. Extraverts enjoy social attention.[26] Hence, it is quiet natural for them to share photos online to seek social approval and affirmation. Extraverts also have more online social contacts.[17] Hence, keeping in touch with these contacts may be easy by sharing selfies online which may help them communicate their emotions, thoughts, and lifestyle with their friends. Previous research has also shown that extraverts use social media to communicate with others.[34],[35] Being enthusiastic and excitement seeking, it is common for extraverts to engage in lot of personal and social activities. Recording of these special events has come to be seen as normal part. Furthermore, these recorded photos can be stored as publically accessible photo archive which may satisfy their social needs. Our finding was also in line with previous research finding where researchers have found positive relation between extraversion and documentation of selfies.[36]

Agreeable individuals have found to post selfies for communication and archiving. Seidman[35] has found in his research that agreeable individuals use social media for communication. Agreeable individuals are oriented toward others. Belongingness may be important psychological need for these individuals, and keeping communication with others through selfie uploads on social media may help them to serve this purpose. The relation between documentation of selfies and agreeableness has been shown in previous studies also.[36] Being socially active, they may involve in group activities, and recording of these social moments may be the natural part of social activity. We also found that individuals with high conscientiousness tend to post selfies for archiving. As these people are well-organized and scrupulous, it seems logical for them to record their special life events.

Neurotic individuals had a negative association with attention seeking, communication, and archiving motivations for selfie-posting. As neurotic people are self-cautious and sensitive to rejection, it may be threatening for them to draw attention of others to their life events which may be reflected in their selfies. This may also probably the reason they do not want to archive their selfies. As Ross et al.[28] noted, neurotic individuals tend to avoid communicating through photosharing as compared to text messages, probably because they cannot perceive control over information sharing through photos.

Limitations

The sample population of this study was college students. Hence, generalizing results of this study to general population is to be done cautiously. Second, information was collected through self-reported questionnaire where assessment of personality, selfie-related behavior, and motivations behind selfie-posting were totally based on self-report. Even though we have taken into consideration major motivations for selfie-posting, there may be even other different types of motivations which may have to be taken into consideration. For overcoming these drawbacks, we suggest more elaborate research design with face-to-face interview of more diverse population to collect more detailed and objective data.


   Conclusion Top


The present study revealed the complex interplay of personality traits and psychological motivations behind selfie-posting. It denotes the fact that selfie-posting is not a simple plain act, but a range of personal characteristics and motivations compel individual to engage into this behavior. Females as well as individuals with high extraversion and agreeableness engage in selfie-posting and selfie-editing more frequently while neurotic individuals tend to avoid engaging this behavior. Individuals tend to post selfies most commonly for communication followed by attention-seeking purpose. Individuals with different personalities may use selfies differently to fulfill their inner psychological needs. The extraverted people post selfies for attention seeking, communication, and archiving, whereas agreeable individuals post them for communication and archiving. Neurotic individuals tend to avoid posting selfies as they do not want to engage in attention seeking, communication, and archiving.

This study provides the initial foray for future research to ensure deeper understanding of personality factors and motivations behind selfie-related behavior and their implications for individuals as well as society in general.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4]



 

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