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Does He Post a Lot of 'Selfies'? He Might Be a Narcissist

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THURSDAY, Jan. 8, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- That guy on Facebook posting dozens of "selfies" of himself -- at the beach, at work, partying -- might just be a narcissist, a new study suggests.

"It's not surprising that men who post a lot of selfies and spend more time editing them are more narcissistic, but this is the first time it has actually been confirmed in a study," Jesse Fox, lead author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University, said in a university news release.

The research involved 800 men, ages 18 to 40, who completed an online survey that asked them about their online photo posting activities, along with questionnaires meant to assess their personalities.

Men who posted more photos online scored higher on measures of narcissism and psychopathy, Fox's team found. According to the researchers, narcissists typically believe they're smarter, more attractive and better than other people, but often have some underlying insecurity. Psychopathy involves a lack of empathy and regard for others, along with impulsive behavior.

Men who spent more time editing their photos before posting them online scored higher in narcissism and "self-objectification," where a person's appearance becomes key to how they value themselves.

"The more interesting finding is that [men who post lots of selfies] also score higher on this other anti-social personality trait, psychopathy, and are more prone to self-objectification," Fox said.

"We know that self-objectification leads to a lot of terrible things, like depression and eating disorders in women," Fox said. "With the growing use of social networks, everyone is more concerned with their appearance. That means self-objectification may become a bigger problem for men, as well as for women."

She said that posting lots of selfies on social networks can reinforce self-objectification, because people receive so much feedback on their appearance in the photos. "It may make people objectify themselves even more," Fox said. "We are running a study on that now."

One other finding: Men who rated higher on the psychopathy scale did not tend to spend much time editing their online selfies.

"That makes sense," Fox said, "because psychopathy is characterized by impulsivity. They are going to snap the photos and put them online right away. They want to see themselves. They don't want to spend time editing."

And what about women and their use of selfies online? Fox said that initial findings from a study her team is conducting with women is yielding similar findings.

However, she stressed that all people who post a lot of photos of themselves online aren't necessarily narcissists or psychopaths. Indeed, all the men in the current study scored within the normal range of behavior -- some of them simply had higher-than-average levels of these anti-social traits.

The study appears online in the journal Personality and Individual Differences.

More information

The American Psychological Association has more about narcissism.

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