Selfie: What Motivates People to Take Photos of Themselves?


Selfie is a relatively new registered word in the dictionary. But the act of taking own photos is not new. In fact, as early as eighteen century, this practice was known among early photographers.

The only difference is that those early selfies involved the use of old cameras. In addition, the purpose of taking photos of oneself was to test the image quality. While today, it is done through smartphones.

Therefore, selfie, as dictionaries define it today, is a practice in which one takes a photo of himself or herself using a smartphone.

In this definition, the connection between smartphones (new cameras) is highlighted. In its strict sense, you can only say that somebody is taking a selfie if he or she is taking self-photo through a smartphone.

Some people say that selfie boosts their self-esteem. For example, one survey found that 41% of adult women claim that selfies make them feel confident.

Along the years, the practice of taking own photos has been observed. But the reason why people love taking pictures of themselves is an ongoing debate. Scientific disciplines including psychology try to understand the motivation behind a selfie.

 Person’s personality and selfie

What motivates people to love taking their self-image through smartphones? This question sparks several scientific studies. For example, one study investigated the possible link between selfie and personality factors.

The researchers suspected that selfie is related to narcissism, psychopath, and Machiavellianism.

Narcissism is the feeling of extreme self-centeredness and grandiose view of oneself. Narcissists have a tremendous need to be admired by others. They love being the center of attention all the time.

Psychopathy is a psychological disorder in which an individual shows anti-social behavior and inability to love others.

Machiavellianism is characterized by deception and dishonesty. A person with this character is most likely apply deceptive tactics to outperform others.

The result of the said study found that both narcissism and psychopathy predict selfie behavior. Meaning, narcissist and psychopath people are more often to post their self-obtained photos than their counterparts.

However, another recent study had found other reasons why people love to take their own pictures other than personality. And these reasons are dependent on the individuals’ circumstance.

The three types of people who take a selfie


These people take a selfie to communicate. Communicators use their own image to engage in conversation. They want to tell the world where they are and what they are doing. Communicators love to share their lives with others.


These people love to share events and places with others. They post a selfie to update their profile pictures. They love regular updates on their social media accounts.


These people take a selfie as a medium to record and preserve their memories. They love to tell the world who they are.

The researchers further state:

Overall, the data from this study argues that because digital snapshots can be taken and shared more readily than any other photographic genre in history, selfies have come to serve a strong communication purpose in modern society. However, individuals’ uses for selfies still serve a goal of preserving memories, either for the individual taking them or for their intended audience. Furthermore, the complex nature of selfies and the individuals who take, mediate, and distribute them have propelled the genre into a tool of visual rhetoric filled with communication intent, mediated image events, and framed visual rhetoric.

How about you? Why you take a selfie?

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