Scholarly reflections on the ‘selfie’

Oxford University Press Blog:

When Oxford Dictionaries chose ‘selfie’ as their Word of the Year 2013, we invited several scholars from different fields to share their thoughts on this emerging phenomenon.

“Theory of mind may be foremost among the factors that set people apart from other species. Yet, to know that others have a mind (full of beliefs, expectations, emotions, perceptions — some the same and some different from one’s own) is not enough to be really successful as the social animal. Missing is the wish of the 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns: ‘O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us / To see oursels as others see us!’ It was his humorous way to point out that avoiding vanity, hubris, embarrassment, etc., depends on imagining oneself from another’s point of view, and to note that our sensory apparatus is pointed away from “the self,” poorly positioned to help much with that. The selfie (an arm’s length close-up self-portrait) photograph is a way to control others’ images of us, to get out in front of their judgments, to put an image in their heads with purpose and spunk. Others’ judgments are no longer just their own creation, the selfie objectifies the self, influences others’ thoughts. And, since the selfie is one’s own creation, it also affords plausible deniability; it isn’t me, it’s just one ‘me’ that I created for you.”
— Robert Arkin, Professor of Psychology in the Social Psychology program at The Ohio State University and editor of Most Underappreciated: 50 Prominent Social Psychologists Describe Their Most Unloved Work

“From a social psychological standpoint, the selfie phenomenon seems to stem from two basic human motives. The first is to attract attention from other people. Because people’s positive social outcomes in life require that others know them, people are motivated to get and maintain social attention. By posting selfies, people can keep themselves in other people’s minds. In addition, like all photographs that are posted on line, selfies are used to convey a particular impression of oneself. Through the clothes one wears, one’s expression, staging of the physical setting, and the style of the photo, people can convey a particular public image of themselves, presumably one that they think will garner social rewards.”
— Mark R. Leary, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University and author of The Curse of the Self: Self-Awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life and editor of Interpersonal Rejection

“From a social psychological standpoint, the selfie phenomenon seems to stem from two basic human motives. The first is to attract attention from other people. Because people’s positive social outcomes in life require that others know them, people are motivated to get and maintain social attention. By posting selfies, people can keep themselves in other people’s minds. In addition, like all photographs that are posted on line, selfies are used to convey a particular impression of oneself. Through the clothes one wears, one’s expression, staging of the physical setting, and the style of the photo, people can convey a particular public image of themselves, presumably one that they think will garner social rewards.”
Mark R. Leary, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University and author of The Curse of the Self: Self-Awareness, Egotism, and the Quality of Human Life and editor of Interpersonal Rejection – See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2013/11/scholarly-reflections-on-the-selfie-woty-2013/#sthash.Ui0uMh4J.dpuf
Theory of mind may be foremost among the factors that set people apart from other species. Yet, to know that others have a mind (full of beliefs, expectations, emotions, perceptions — some the same and some different from one’s own) is not enough to be really successful as the social animal. Missing is the wish of the 18th century Scottish poet Robert Burns: ‘O wad some Pow’r the giftie gie us / To see oursels as others see us!’ It was his humorous way to point out that avoiding vanity, hubris, embarrassment, etc., depends on imagining oneself from another’s point of view, and to note that our sensory apparatus is pointed away from “the self,” poorly positioned to help much with that. The selfie (an arm’s length close-up self-portrait) photograph is a way to control others’ images of us, to get out in front of their judgments, to put an image in their heads with purpose and spunk. Others’ judgments are no longer just their own creation, the selfie objectifies the self, influences others’ thoughts. And, since the selfie is one’s own creation, it also affords plausible deniability; it isn’t me, it’s just one ‘me’ that I created for you.”
Robert Arkin, Professor of Psychology in the Social Psychology program at The Ohio State University and editor of Most Underappreciated: 50 Prominent Social Psychologists Describe Their Most Unloved Work – See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2013/11/scholarly-reflections-on-the-selfie-woty-2013/#sthash.Ui0uMh4J.dpuf
When Oxford Dictionaries chose ‘selfie’ as their Word of the Year 2013, we invited several scholars from different fields to share their thoughts on this emerging phenomenon. – See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2013/11/scholarly-reflections-on-the-selfie-woty-2013/#sthash.Ui0uMh4J.dpuf
When Oxford Dictionaries chose ‘selfie’ as their Word of the Year 2013, we invited several scholars from different fields to share their thoughts on this emerging phenomenon. – See more at: http://blog.oup.com/2013/11/scholarly-reflections-on-the-selfie-woty-2013/#sthash.Ui0uMh4J.dpuf

Read the whole story: Oxford University Press Blog

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