Let's face it, we're all a little guilty of taking selfies. And whether you post them on social media regularly or not, anyone with a smartphone and an able arm can't say that they've haven't taken at least one selfie in their life. While generations above us (ahem, baby boomers) might like to write us off as narcissists, a group of communications masters student at Brigham Young University in Utah have sought to find out why people take selfies.
And after studying the motivations of 46 participants, who answered questions about why they would take a selfie, they grouped people into three distinct categories: communicators, autobiographers and self-publicists. Read on to find out which one you fit into:
These people take selfies to engage friends or family in a conversation. "They're all about two-way communication," says co-author and student Maureen Elinzano. Some may want to spark change, like Leonardo DiCaprio and environmental issues or Lena Dunham's Hillary Clinton campaigning.
Defined as people who use social media to record significant life events. The key here is important moments. These people don't need feedback or enagagement from friends, family or peers - they're seeking to chronicle memorable moments in their lives. A perfect example? NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returning to Earth in 2016 after a year in space.
3. Self publicists
Surprisingly, this the smallest group, although also the most pervasive. These "are the people who love documenting their entire lives," says co-author Harper Anderson. Key words: entire lives. Which means they'll take to social media for any reason - even if it's just a throwback.
"In documenting and sharing their lives, they're hoping to present themselves and their stories in a positive light." While a certain family of reality TV stars whose names begin with K fits the bill, so do celebs like Taylor Swift and Katy Perry. Although, it's also worth noting they only present the things they want you to see...
So, why should we care about categorising everyone? Beyond self-expression, sharing and communication, the researchers noted that selfies have an anthropological use. "Years from now, our society's visual history is going to be largely comprised of selfies," says co-author Matt Lewis. "To find out why people do it, that contributes a lot to the discussion on selfies and visual communication in general."
How great to think that photography evolved to become an art form for self-expression, then as a documentation of war and modern history, and now... it's become a tool for people to document their pets lives and show off new haircuts.