From Facebook to Instagram to Snapchat, there are millions of selfies on social media.
However, according to scientists in Germany, they can all be divided into five categories: “aesthetics,” “imaginative state,” “feature,” and “theory of mind.”
If you like posting selfies that just look stylish, you’re an “aesthetic” selfie fanatic, but if you tend to post snaps with objects, you’re stimulating “imagination.”
“Trait” means you like to reflect aspects of your personality in your snaps, while “state” selfie photographers tend to post temporary snapshots of a time and place.
Finally, “theory of mind” selfies—named for the cognitive ability to understand others and their behavior—force the viewer to make assumptions about the photographer’s motives or identity.
Scientists say all snapshots fall into five categories: “aesthetic,” “state,” “property,” “imagination,” and “theory of mind.”
The five most important selfie styles
– aesthetics – Selfies that show style or aesthetic experience.
– Performance – Selfies that make the viewer imagine where the selfie-maker was or what they were doing
– Characteristic – Selfies that evoke personality-related assumptions
– Condition – Selfies that reveal the mood or atmosphere of the moment
– theory of mind – Selfies that cause the viewer to make assumptions about the selfie-maker’s motives or identity
The new study was led by psychologists from the Graduate School of Affective and Cognitive Sciences at Otto Friedrich University Bamberg, who believe there is a lack of understanding of how people use selfies to communicate.
“Selfies are taken to communicate psychological states, goals, loves, and commitments,” her article states.
“Despite the central role of selfies in expressing our own mental states, we lack a consistent nomenclature or established classification system for selfies.”
“We identified five different categories that we call semantic profiles – aesthetics, imagination, trait, state and theory of mind.”
The study asked 132 participants to give spontaneous descriptions of selfies taken by various people, including celebrities and the public.
Using an algorithm, the researchers randomly selected 15 selfies for each participant to review from a total pool of 1,001.
The study authors provided the participants with five text fields for each selfie in which they could write down their spontaneous reactions to the snapshots.
“Aesthetics” refers to a type of selfie that showcases style or “aesthetic experience” – they look good for the sake of looking good
“Imagination” selfies trigger assumptions in the viewer about where the person depicted is or what they are doing
The researchers processed this data to summarize respondents’ first impressions into 26 categories, including “mood,” “pose,” “objects,” and “alcohol.”
The scientists then analyzed how frequently these categories appeared in the responses and whether they appeared together before grouping them into five different “semantic profiles.”
According to the team, the most popular selfie type, “aesthetic,” refers to selfies that showcase style or “aesthetic experience.”
These are snapshots that just look good – from posing with an unusual hairstyle to creating a duck’s face to using artistic techniques like using a mirror to crop image details.
The second most popular type is “Imagination,” which refers to selfies that trigger assumptions about where the subject is or what they might be doing.
They often show buildings or other objects that could indicate that the selfie photographer is at a party or on vacation, for example.
The third most popular type, “trait,” conveys messages about what our personality might be like—such as outgoing, intelligent, or cheerful.
Less popular, but still widely shared on social media, are “state” selfies, which reflect a temporary mood of the person or the atmosphere of the scene.
Finally, “theory of mind” selfies cause the viewer of the photo to make assumptions about the motives or identity of the selfie-maker.
The third most popular type are “traits,” which convey messages about what our personality might be like—such as outgoing, intelligent, or cheerful.
“State” selfies reflect a temporary mood of the person taking the photo or the atmosphere of the scene
“Theory of mind” selfies cause those viewing the photo to make assumptions about the motives or identity of the selfie-maker
“We were quite impressed by how often the category “theory of mind” was expressed, as it is a very sophisticated way of communicating inner feelings and thoughts,” said study author Tobias Schneider from the Otto Friedrich University of Bamberg.
“It shows how effective selfies can be in communication.”
The study authors admit that these five semantic profiles may not be expressed or understood in the same way worldwide, so further research is needed.
Furthermore, their method only used a sample of 1,001 selfies. Therefore, the next step will be to expand the selfie database to better reflect the millions online.
“We definitely need larger, more diverse and cross-cultural samples in the future to understand how different groups and cultures use selfies to express themselves,” said lead study author Christian Carbon from the University of Bamberg.
The full results were published in the journal Frontiers in Communication.
Thinstagram! According to a study, selfies appear slimmer than regular photos
When you open Facebook or Instagram, your feed is probably flooded with selfies.
The portraits, which are taken of a person with the camera removed from the body but directed at themselves, have become increasingly popular in recent years.
But it’s not just a self-congratulatory fad; there’s actually scientific evidence to back up the craze – experts say they can make you look slimmer.
In a new study, participants tended to rate women’s bodies as slimmer in selfie photos than in images taken from other angles.