Motivations and Positive Effects of Taking, Viewing, and Posting Different Types of Selfies on Social Media: A Cross-National Comparison

Motivations and Positive Effects of Taking, Viewing, and Posting Different Types of Selfies on Social Media: A Cross-National Comparison

Fiouna Ruonan Zhang (Bowling Green State University, USA), Nicky Chang Bi (Bowling Green State University, USA) and Louisa Ha (Bowling Green State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2018 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3373-3.ch003
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In this study, we explored the motivations and the effects of selfie taking, posting, and viewing. To understand the selfie phenomenon, we conducted in-depth interviews with 16 American and Chinese students. The findings suggest that the selfie phenomenon among American students is not necessarily related to narcissism and low self-esteem, as argued in many previous literatures. Contrarily, selfie usage among Chinese students is more associated with narcissism (self-indulgence in recreational selfie-taking) and impression management (selfie-editing to improve online self-image). In the general, selfie taking, viewing, and posting behaviors could be conceptualized as more than just a display of narcissism, but also as a new way of communication, life-recording, online impression management, and relationship management. Cultural differences between American and Chinese students' use of selfies are also discussed.
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Review Of Literature

In previous literature, selfies, compared with pictures taken by others, were often conceptualized as a demonstration of negative personality like narcissism and low self-esteem (Barry et al., 2015; Sorokowska et al., 2016; Kim, Lee, Sung, & Choi, 2016; McCain, Borg, Rothenberg, Churillo, Weiler, & Campbell, 2016) or as a purposive self-constructed image to display physical attractiveness (McLean et al., 2015) and seek peer recognition (Chua & Chang, 2016). Selfie-takers are thus often assumed to be narcissists and with low self-esteem who take and post selfies to grab attention, display physical sexiness, and seek positive peer feedback. The current study emphasizes the communicative and relational motivations of the selfie phenomenon by examining selfies as four distinctive types: individual selfie, selfie with objects, selfie with another individual, and group selfie. This study normalizes the selfie phenomenon and selfie takers, and conceptualizes selfie taking, viewing, posting behavior as a new way of communication, life-recording, image management, and relationship management. Selfies can also have very positive effects on the selfie-takers and the viewers of the selfies.

Regarding the effects of the selfie phenomenon, previous literatures have themed around negative psychological aspects like lower self-esteem, lower confidence and sense of insecurity due to negative or absence of response to selfies (Chua & Chang, 2016), and enhancement of gender stereotype through selfies featuring physical appearance (McLean et al., 2015). The current research, however, not only focus on the psychological effects of selfies, but also study the effects of this emerging phenomenon as both a form of visual communication and relationship maintenance.

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