A group of scientists at the University of Glasgow has discovered that we’re more likely to snap a selfie with our phones than with our eyes.
Researchers studied the habits of a group of 10 participants and found that while both groups were equally likely to take a photo with their phones, the selfie was taken with the most focus.
The study, published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, analysed photographs taken in different locations, such as the gym, with participants being asked to focus on a point of interest, such a person’s face, and focus on the subject for 10 seconds.
For the selfie, participants were asked to snap the photo, then quickly move their hands up and down to take the shot.
A third of the participants completed the test in an office environment, but only two did so in the gym.
When the researchers compared the photos taken in the office and in the gyms, they found that both groups took significantly more selfies.
“This suggests that we may be more likely than we think to use our phones in certain situations,” said Dr Joanna McGlothlin, a postdoctoral researcher in psychology and the study’s lead author.
However, the researchers also found that the selfie wasn’t just about focusing on a single person.
While only one in ten of the selfie pictures were of a single subject, nearly all of them were taken with a different person.
“It suggests that a person can be taken in a way that looks at the camera and then uses it to create a unique selfie,” she said.
What’s more, it was also possible for people to take selfies in a more mundane setting.
Dr McGlathlin and her colleagues conducted an experiment where participants were presented with a series of photos, and asked to identify which of the pictures was of a person.
They also showed participants a series pictures from a photo montage of the same person, such that only those from the montage were shown.
They then asked participants to take photographs of themselves and to report which was of the person in the montages.
As the results showed, those who had taken a selfie in a mundane environment tended to identify the person they had taken the photo of as their own.
This suggests people are less likely to focus when focusing on other people in a photograph, but this effect was stronger in the selfie photos than the montaged ones, the scientists found.
Although the researchers didn’t specifically examine what these selfies meant for people’s mental health, Dr McGlachern said the results suggest that selfies are not just about creating a unique identity.
“[They are] also about making a social statement about who you are,” she added.
In the future, Dr McCluskey and her team would like to investigate whether people’s selfie habits could be influenced by the use of facial recognition technology, as some of the images in the study may have been taken by facial recognition software. ______