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10 June 2016

But First, Let me Take a Selfie! Top-5 Topics for Young Adults’ Selfies

Keywords: popularity, media, mobile, mobile phone, personality, personality characteristics, social media, technology, young adults, youth communication,

With the growing popularity of image-based social network sites, such as Instagram, “Selfie-ism” has become a global phenomenon. A Computers in Human Behavior study reveals the most popular topics for young adults’ selfies, as well as the most important factors associated with selfie taking.

Take aways

  • Young adults use Instagram approximately 85 minutes per day
  • About half of the pictures posted are selfies. The five most popular type of selfies are:
    • everyday-life selfies
    • travel selfies
    • hobby selfies
    • food selfies
    • social selfies
  • The following factors lead to higher intentions to post a selfie:
    • having a positive opinion about taking selfies
    • have friends who post selfies
    • having high technological knowledge
    • having friends to share a selfie with
    • having a narcissistic personality

Study information

  • The question?

    What are the topics and predictors of selfie-behavior on SNSs?

  • Who?

    85 Instagram users, aged between 20 and 32 years (mean age: 24 years) participated. 76 females and 9 males who had experience of taking selfies and posting them on Instagram

  • Where?

    Not reported

  • How?

    In May 2015, the young adults filled out a questionnaire, answering questions regarding their opinion about taking selfies (attitudes), their friends’ selfie-behavior (subjective norm), their technological knowledge and the amount of friends to share a selfie with (perceived behavioral control), narcissism, engagement in SNS activities and selfie-related behavior. Six weeks later, the researchers counted the number of selfie-postings as well as the number of photo postings on each participant’s Instagram account from the previous six weeks.

Facts and findings

  • Participants had been using Instagram for about 17 months with an average of 85 minutes per day. 
    • 80% of the participants posted a picture at least once a week. About half of these (39%) were selfies.
    • Most selfies were taken in everyday life, travel, hobby, food, social, leisure, love, fashion, beauty, pet, fitness contexts, and brand objects (see Figure 1).
  • Young adults who liked selfie-posting more, were also more inclined to post selfies themselves.
  • Moreover, when young adults had a lot of friends who posted selfies, they were also more likely to post selfies themselves. A possible explanation for this is that young adults see their friends’ behavior as desirable.
  • The more participants felt they were in control, for example by having knowledge about how to make a selfie and friends to share a selfie with, the more they were intended to post selfies, leading to more selfies posted.
  • Also, narcissistic participants more often intended to post a selfie on Instagram, which led to more selfies posted. 
  • Critical note: The sample comprised Instagram users only. However, other SNS-sites such as Snapchat, could have different needs and audiences.