Last month I was walking across the Golden Jubilee Bridge between the South Bank and the Embankment in Central London when I nearly got hit in the face. It wasn’t some thug trying to attack me. Rather it was a group of tourists using a “selfie-stick” to take a picture of themselves with the London skyline as a backdrop. I was just passing them as they extended the stick, right in front of me. They were wrapped up in their own little world; they had no idea that what they were really doing was carrying an offensive weapon…!
Selfies. You can hardly move these days for people taking them. Tourists in London no longer seem to be looking at all the attractions, but taking selfies and trying to see the attraction they are standing at through a three-inch screen.
One thing you cannot have missed is the strange face that many people use when posing for their selfie. It is called a “duck face” and occurs when people purse their lips together and slightly screw up their eyes. So well-known is the “duck face” pose that the word itself made it into the Oxford English Dictionary last year.
You have to ask – why do so many people adopt this unnatural pose when taking a selfie? They do not pose like that for photographs taken by other people. Some people suggest it is supposedly self-deprecating, others think it is sexy. Some people believe it might be a deep-seated biological response to remove subjectivity. By posing in a duck face, we do not reveal our true emotions. It is a way of saying “here I am, but you have now idea how I am feeling”.
Now, though, new research has revealed the connection between the selfies we take and what other people think about us when they view the images. And it is not good news for duck face posers, especially if they use selfies on their social media pages or websites.
The researchers from Singapore found that there was a connection between perceived personality types and the way we took selfies. People look at selfies and make assumptions about the kind of person we are. The trouble is, they were not very accurate in their assessment. The only aspect of personality that the people looking at selfies got right was the fact that individuals who take selfies tend to be more open.
Many people take selfies with the camera held high. Viewers perceive such images as though the person pictured in them has a lower level of “agreeableness”. People rated as “conscientious” tended to not include much background. However, people who posed with a duck face were assessed as having higher levels of emotional instability.
In other words, if you want people to react positively to your selfies take the following steps:
- Hold the camera at the same level as your face
- Reduce the amount of background you include
- Smile, rather than use a duck face
Oh – and don’t use a selfie-stick when I am walking past you….!
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+