There’s more than one way to take a selfie, and more than one reason to do it, too.
A new study done by five student researchers at BYU found that people’s motives for taking selfies are more than just related to narcissism and expression of wealth.
In fact, BYU researchers discovered three main reasons people take selfies: communication, autobiographical expression and self-publicizing.
Those three reasons for selfies have their own characteristics. For example, communicators tend to take selfies for the sake of sharing information with the family and friends.
“They’re all about two-way communication,” said current student Maureen “Mo” Elinzano, one of the researchers in the study.
Meanwhile, autobiographers snap selfies to show off true events that happen in life. These photographers want people to see their photos, but don’t really care about feedback.
And self-publicists, which make up the least amount of selfies takers, are people who show off their life and hope to present a positive brand.
These selfie takers “are the people who love documenting their entire lives,” said co-author Harper Anderson, according to BYU. “And in documenting and sharing their lives, they’re hoping to present themselves and their stories in a positive light.”
The researchers said that this identification is important because it shows how different people go about sharing their life story on social media.
“it’s a different kind of photography than we’ve ever experienced before,” Holiday said, according to a press release. “I can go on Facebook or Instagram and see that people have a desire to participate in a conversation. It’s an opportunity for them to express themselves and get some kind of return on that expression.”
Selfies have previously been linked to be indicators of specific traits. According to The Huffington Post, a 2015 study from the Ohio State University found that men who post photos of themselves tend to be more narcissistic and psychopathic.
Researchers surveyed 800 men about their photo habits on social media. They found a correlation between those who post a lot of selfies and higher levels of narcissism.
The study’s lead author Jesse Fox said in a statement this isn’t surprising given the impulsive nature of social media photography.
“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,” Fox said in a statement, adding, “That makes sense 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.”
Fox said more research should be done to figure out how selfies affect one's personality.
“We are all concerned with our self-presentation online, but how we do that may reveal something about our personality.”