Female Selfie Posting Can Be Driven by Aggression

Summary: Female selfie posting was associated with intimidatory self-presentation strategies and linked to higher levels of aggression.

Source: Swansea University

New research from Swansea University shows that female selfie posting is associated with intimidatory self-presentation strategies, linked to higher levels of aggression.

The study, conducted by Professor Phil Reed from the University’s Faculty of Science and Engineering and academics from the University of Strathclyde, has been published in the Journal of Social Media in Society.

The team examined the posting of selfies and non-selfies on social media by 150 individuals, separately assessing the degree to which they adopted different types of self-presentation strategies; how people act with others to make an impression.

On average, females posted five selfies and ten non-selfies a month, compared to two selfies and six non-selfies by males. However, there was a large range of selfie posts, with some people posting more than 40 selfies a month.

For females, the strongest predictor of selfie posting was the degree to which they adopted intimidatory self-presentational strategies. The more they tended to emit actions in the real world with an intent to project a powerful and dangerous personality to induce fear in others, the more they posted selfies. These selfies were not directed specifically at either males or females, but at the online community in general.

Males did not show any relationship between real-world intimidatory self-presentation and selfie posting, but their desire to avoid punishment, that is, to fit in and be accepted, predicted the sharing of selfies.

This finding contrasts with previous studies conducted in real-world situations, where females do not display associations between this aggressive characteristic and their behaviors as strongly as males.

Professor Phil Reed from Swansea University’s School of Psychology said, “When the usual social constraints that operate in the ‘real world’ are removed, it could facilitate the expression of this aggressive facet of female personality.”

Professor Reed added, “These results suggest that traditional androcentric views of aggression need to be altered.

“Thinking of aggression by females as a result of some slightly male-like physiology in those females or as a mating strategy directed against other females will not do.

This shows a woman taking a selfie
On average, females posted five selfies and ten non-selfies a month, compared to two selfies and six non-selfies by males. Image is in the public domain

“Rather, digital behavior suggests women are not programmed to be passive but are just as actively aggressive as men, and, in some circumstances, more so—and not just when getting a mate.”

This research follows earlier work by the team published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences which also found that intimidatory self-presentation was most strongly associated with selfie posting by females.

The data further revealed that, while males were generally more assertive than females in the real world, there was no difference in the use of real-world aggressive self-presentation strategies between genders; in fact, males tended to show higher levels of ingratiation strategies than females.

Professor Reed said, “While males reported being more assertive in the real world, these behaviors were not always associated with their online behavior, where females tended to let their aggressive traits guide their behavior more than males. This may reflect the operation of a different set of social-role norms or their absence in online settings.”

About this psychology research news

Author: Press Office
Source: Swansea University
Contact: Press Office – Swansea University
Image: The image is in the public domain

Original Research: Closed access.
Intimidatory assertive self-presentation in selfie posting is greater in females than males” by Phil Reed. Journal of Social Media in Society


Intimidatory assertive self-presentation in selfie posting is greater in females than males

The current study examined whether assertive self-presentation strategies, demonstrated in ‘real-world’ situations, were related to selfie and non-selfie postings on social media.  It examined whether such relationships were associated with differential reward motivations, and whether these relationships were the same for females and males.  118 participants (17-66 years), took part using an online survey. 

Assertive self-presentational strategies were associated with selfie, but not non-selfie, posting for females, but not males. 

Females high in intimidation as a self-presentation strategy were most likely to post selfies on social media sites.  For males, there was a negative relationship between selfie posting and punishment avoidance.  Self-presentational strategies did not predict posting of non-selfies. 

This suggests that aggressive personality factors, such as anti-social personality or narcissism, both of which have been associated with selfie posting, may drive some selfie-posting behaviour for females, a suggestion that relates to recent studies of selfie behaviour in young females.

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  1. I don’t 100% agree with this article. My experience is different with the ladies and men I know. Most have deep seated depression including myself and my family. My brother never posts anything and he is an angry person. My sister either. She is an angry person. But all the women I know that post selfies are depressed or going thru trauma and need emotional support. I don’t think there was a broad enough test subject or subjects

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