Are you an autobiographer, a communicator or a self publicist? Researchers reveal the three types of selfie taker
- Master's students at Brigham Young University found out why people take selfies
- They found that the reasons go far beyond narcissism or even showing off
- Selfie-takers can be grouped into three different categories: communicators, autobiographers and self-publicists
Everyone takes selfies: your siblings, your friends and maybe even your parents - but why do they do it?
A group of master's students based as Brigham Young University (BYU) aimed to find out why people take and share selfie's.
They found out that the reasons go beyond narcissism, and selfie-takers can be grouped into three categories: communicators, autobiographers and self-publicists.
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Kim Kardashian is a 'self-publicist' - the smallest of the three categories. Self publicists 'are the people who love documenting their entire lives'
In a late-night text chain, the BYU communications students asked themselves the question: what motivates me and you - and people of all ages, cultures, genders and religions - to take and share selfies?
While common perception may lead people to think that selfie-takers have narcissistic motives, the research shows that there's more to it.
In the study, recently published in the journal Visual Communication Quarterly, the five student researchers showed that individuals' motives often extend beyond self-obsession and showing off.
It's important to recognize that not everyone is a narcissist,' said coauthor Steven Holiday, who completed his master's in 2015 and is now pursuing a Ph.D. at Texas Tech.
After analyzing their survey results and interviews, the students identified three categories of selfie-takers: communicators, autobiographers and self-publicists.
Communicators take selfies primarily to engage their friends, family or followers in a conversation.
'They're all about two-way communication,' explained coauthor and current student Maureen "Mo" Elinzano.
People do this when they want to spark a conversation, for example celebrities who want to encourage people to vote by posting "I voted" selfies on Instagram.
The second type, autobiographers, use selfies as a tool to record key events in their lives and preserve significant memories.
While people in this group still want others to see their photos, they aren't necessarily seeking the feedback and engagement that communicators are.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelley, who returned to Earth in 2016 after a year in space, chronicled his trip with a number of selfies from space.
NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is probably an 'autobiographer' selfie-taker. He spent a year aboard the International Space Station. This is a selfie of him inside the cupola, a special compartment that provides a 360-degree view of Earth
THE THREE CATEGORIES OF SELFIE-TAKERS
A group of master's students at Brigham Young University wanted to find out the reasons why people take selfies.
They identified three categories of selfie-takers:
- Communicators: This group takes selfies primarily to engage their friends, family or followers in a conversation.
- Autobiographers: Use selfies as a tool to record key events in their lives and preserve significant memories.
- Self-publicists: The smallest of the three groups, they like to document their entire lives, and hope to present themselves and their stories in a positive light.
Self-publicists, actually the smallest of the three groups, 'are the people who love documenting their entire lives,' said coauthor Harper Anderson, who is also now pursuing a Ph.D. at Texas Tech.
'And in documenting and sharing their lives, they're hoping to present themselves and their stories in a positive light.'
Some of the examples the authors provide for this category are Taylor Swift, Katy Perry and the Kardashian sisters.
Identifying and categorizing the three groups is valuable in part because 'it's a different kind of photography than we've ever experienced before,' Holiday said.
'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,' said Holiday.
And understanding people's motives can in turn be valuable, said coauthor and current student Matt Lewis, 'because years from now, our society's visual history is going to be largely comprised of selfies.
'To find out why people do it, that contributes a lot to the discussion on selfies and visual communication in general,' said Lewis.