Want to be liked? Don't share 'selfies', share 'posies'

Post your selfie at your own risk. Photo: iStock
Post your selfie at your own risk. Photo: iStock 

"Check your selfie before you wreck your selfie." That's the takeaway message from new research which suggests that you might want to stop and think about the type of snaps you're posting to Instagram if you don't want to be judged.

The study, published in The Journal of Research Personality found that whether you share a "selfie" or a "posie" (a photo taken by someone else) can impact how others perceive you - in a big way.

(Here's Pink demonstrating the difference for us.)


A post shared by P!NK (@pink) on


A post shared by P!NK (@pink) on

"Even when two feeds had similar content, such as depictions of achievement or travel, feelings about the person who posted selfies were negative and feelings about the person who posted posies were positive," said lead author Chris Barry. "It shows there are certain visual cues, independent of context, that elicit either a positive or negative response on social media."

As part of the study, researchers from the University of Southern Mississippi analysed data from two groups of students. The first group consisted of 30 men and women who answered personality measures and allowed researchers to access their 30 most recent Instagram posts.

The team looked at whether the pictures were "selfies" or "posies" and what was depicted in the images. This included physical appearance, events, activities or achievements.

The second group consisted of 119 participants who rated the Instagram profiles of the first group. Using only the images from those profiles and knowing nothing else about the people in the photos, they rated the profiles on attributes such as self-absorption, low self-esteem, extraversion and success.


Results indicated that those who shared posies were seen as having higher self-esteem, being more adventurous, less lonely, more outgoing and more successful than those with greater numbers of selfies.

And it's not good news for those who enjoy posting photos flexing their muscles - these kinds of snaps were judged particularly harshly.

"One of the noteworthy things about this study is that none of these students knew each other or were aware of the Instagram patterns or number of followers of the people they were viewing," Barry said. "While there may be a variety of motives behind why people post self-images to Instagram, how those photos are perceived appears to follow a more consistent pattern.

And while he acknowledges that the findings of the study are just a small piece of the puzzle, "they may be important to keep in mind before you make that next post."