The People Who Are Liking Your Selfies Are Probably Narcissists

Photo: Andrei Coman

Okay, so we've already established the medical term for those of us who take too many selfies—selfitis, of course—and that there may be a real link between narcissism and selfie-taking (shocking news to no one). But now, new research out of Sejong University in Seoul, South Korea, indicates that not only do the people taking selfies exhibit narcissistic tendencies, but the people liking them do too. Basically, social media is just one big self-love fest, and we're all participating in it.

A research team at the university studied 276 adult Instagram users, first attempting to get a handle on their narcissistic tendencies by asking them to agree or disagree with various statements about things like liking their bodies and desiring attention. Their research, which was first published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, confirmed other studies that have indicated that people who most selfies more frequently are also more likely to exhibit narcissistic tendencies.

The second part of the study required participants to evaluate the perceived narcissism of other people based on their Instagram profiles. They were asked to agree or disagree with statements about the other person similar to the ones they had evaluated for themselves, such as “she likes to show off her body” or “she likes to be the center of attention.”

“Whereas non-narcissists indicated more negative attitude towards selfies, lower intention to post selfies, and lower intention to follow the selfie-posting Instagram users than narcissists, narcissists indicated higher intention to follow the selfie-posting Instagram users,” Seunga Venus Jin, the leader of the research team, told Broadly.

So, basically, all those people who have been liking your selfies are probably narcissists. Oh, and you're a narcissist too for posting them in the first place. Many of us, it would seem, are narcissists these days, or at the very least exhibit narcissistic tendencies. Cool!

And while this research isn't definitive, when you think about how Instagram and other social media platforms operate, it makes sense. In order to get more likes and followers, you have to like and follow people—hence all those spammy #like4follow tags and comments in the form of random strings of attention-seeking emojis. So people desperate for digital validation are more likely to engage in this behavior. People who post tons of selfies probably also feel that doing so is cool and are therefore more likely to engage with this kind of content.

According to PsyPost, the researchers are hoping to replicate the study with a variety of social media platforms to “increase generalizability.”