Study Unfairly Pegs Selfie Men as Psychos


Aaron J. Stewart

A photo illustration depicting the relationship between men who take an abnormal amount of selfies and psychopathy. Modeled by Junior Theater Major Stuart Rial. -Aaron J. Stewart

A photo illustration depicting the relationship between men who take an abnormal amount of selfies and psychopathy. Modeled by Junior Theater Major Stuart Rial. -Aaron J. Stewart

Both quarterbacks from last night’s Super Bowl are avid selfie-takers. According to a new study, both of them, then, likely lean toward narcissism and self-objectification. To that I say: do we really need a study to tell us that Tom Brady is a narcissist?

The word “selfie” could be said to have officially entered the English lexicon in 2012, when TIME Magazine included it on their list of top 10 buzzwords for the year. Three years later it has done more than arrived — it has moved in, settled down and started a family.

Selfies (i.e. pictures taken of oneself, often with a mobile device) have caused international incidents, been the crux of multiple marketing campaigns, inspired the rebranding of the monopod as the “selfie stick” and now even have a TV series (ABC’s creatively titled “Selfie”) made about them.

All of this attention inspired researchers at The Ohio State University to try to find out just what kind of person it is who takes selfies. Researchers surveyed 800 men ranging in age from 18 to 40, using an online survey that inquired about their photo-posting behavior on social media. The men were also asked to complete standard questionnaires regarding anti-social behaviors and self-objectification. The results: men who often take and post selfies tend toward narcissism, self-objectification and psychopathy.

It’s not surprising that men who post a lot of selfies… are more narcissistic, but this is the first time it has actually been confirmed in a study,” said Jesse Fox, lead author of the study and an assistant professor of communication at The Ohio State University.

Students at The University of Southern Mississippi generally agreed.

Generally someone who takes a lot of selfies has a self-esteem issue as it is,” said Alissa Clouse, a junior interior design major. “It could be (caused by) low self-esteem or preoccupation with themselves.

David Jordan, a sophomore business major, said that while “you can’t really generalize people who take selfies like that, it is an interesting study nonetheless.” I am inclined to agree with Jordan myself. The findings of the study strike me as over-the-top. It is somewhat of a stretch to claim that all men who commonly take and post selfies are psychopaths.

Unless, of course, you think Barack Obama is a narcissistic psychopath. In this case Republicans might completely agree with the study. That is, until being informed that Mitt Romney is also a serial selfie-taker.

Other men who commonly take selfies include Leonardo diCaprio, Jay-Z, George Clooney and Vladimir Putin (the psychopath part is probably spot-on in that last example).

At the end of the day, most every student – male or female – takes at least a couple of selfies a week. It is, by and large, really nothing more than a harmless cultural phenomenon.

Of course, some might take it a little too far. Renowned selfie-taker James Franco wrote an entire op-ed in the New York Times back in 2013 defending his frequent selfie-taking, a column he ended by saying: “I am actually turned off when I look at an (Instagram) account and don’t see any selfies, because I want to know whom I’m dealing with.” He sounds pretty psychopathic to me.

But then again, I take selfies every day too.