The term “selfitis” was originally coined in 2014. It spread like wildfire throughout Internet-land before the original article, which claimed the American Psychological Association classified “selfitis” as a mental disorder, was outed as a hoax.
But now two psychologists have published a study they say establishes the obsession with taking selfies as a real mental “illness.”
If you take six or more selfies per day, you’ve got it bad, they say.
The authors, Mark D. Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University in the UK and Janarthanan Balakrishnan of Thiagarajar School of Management in India, say the hoax article inspired them to conduct their study.
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Griffiths is a distinguished professor of behavioral addiction, according to the Telegraph.
They conducted focus group interviews with 400 students attending management school in India, because, according to their study, more people in India use Facebook than in any other country, and selfies are inextricably linked, of course, with social media.
They asked respondents questions like, “What compels you to take selfies?”, “Do you feel addicted to taking selfies?” and “Do you think that someone can become addicted to taking selfies?”
“Focus group data from participants strongly implied the presence of ‘selfie addiction,’” the study’s authors wrote.
From the responses, they found “six factors that underlie selfitis,” meaning that if selfies fill your need for self-confidence, attention seeking, mood modification, environmental enhancement, subjective conformity or social competition, you may have caught a case of this particular “-itis.”
The researchers used those six underlying factors to establish what they call the “Selfitis Behavior Scale,” or SBS. Those who suffer from selfitis may do so on three levels:
- Borderline - Taking selfies at least three times a day, but not necessarily posting them on social media
- Acute - Taking selfies at least three times a day and posting every one of them on social media
- Chronic - These are the selfie-takers who have an uncontrollable urge to point their phone at their face and post the selfies on social media more than six times per day
While not without its limits in population sampling (90 percent of the study’s participants were younger than 25 at the time the research was done), the study “empirically validates” what we may have already known but refused to acknowledge: we’ve become addicted to the fleeting photos we take of ourselves.