The Effect of Narcissism and Selfies on Self-Esteem


Psychological Empowerment Among African-American College Students The rising use of selfies and social media across the world has been an increasing phenomenon for quite some time now as technology has been continuously advancing. Self-portraits of one’s self have been photographed decades before the term surfaced as an actual definition. The popular term, selfie, has been defined as a “photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and shared via social media.

“More than 1 million selfies are taken every day, according to, and as of June 2014, there have been more than 127 million Instagram photos with the hashtag #selfie”.

Few studies have primarily examined and analyzed underlying emotions and individual attitudes of African-American women—or African-Americans in general—and their social media usage and selfie posting habits in present day America. The psychological aspects of selfie posting and narcissism among African-Americans, as one may assume, is comparatively different than the psychology of selfie posting amongst those of European descent.

In a review, some researchers primary focus was on African-American women. The researcher highlighted that black women notably contribute to the vast majority of the total amount of selfies that are being posted on a frequent basis. The research reported that African-American women post frequently and continuously because of the negative stigma associated with the physical image of black women collectively.


Narcissism is illustrated as an overly exaggerated promotion of someone’s abilities and achievements; it is the act of being overly confident or engaging in vain, self-centered behavior to increase likeness from others to further stimulate an ego.

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Previous researchers argue that narcissism as a mental disorder within the DSM, hasn’t been thoroughly examined by previous researchers. Over the previous decades, college students’ levels of narcissism have increased tremendously. Previous findings in the report, One major epidemiological study, published in 2008 by researchers at the National Institutes of Health, found that 9.4 percent of Americans in their 20s had experienced Narcissistic Personality Disorder at some point in their life, compared with only 3.2 percent of people over 65 (as cited in Dingfelder, 2011).

The researchers conducted a major study via observations through direct interviewing of subjects; 36, 653 adults—both genders—constituted the nationally representative sample of the research study, according to. Contributory factors that have influenced the rising numbers of narcissism levels today are mainly parents instilling high self-esteem into the children at younger ages as well as media and blogs allowing them to promote themselves publicly on their own terms. Financial stability is a contributory factor with a negative effect on narcissism levels and isn’t as attainable for the younger generations as it may seem researchers argue. The researchers believe the rise in narcissism will eventually decrease or become a steady growth due to those financial struggles the generation has and will possibly continue to experience.


“Numerous studies have found a positive correlation between narcissism and selfie posting on social media”. Various studies in the past regarding personality research has used the NPI scales and other reliable to scales for relating personalities to selfie postings and concluded that a notable predictor is in fact narcissism. “Grandiose narcissism is generally associated with taking and posting more selfies – and especially true selfies with only the individual in it”. Alloway, Runac, Qureshi, and Kemp (2014) supports, “The study found a strong correlation between narcissism and posting different types of self-promoting content on social networking platforms”. Other studies suggest that the growing use of technology and media sites, that are designed for users to engage to engage in social media, has been contributory factors to the increase of narcissism among millennials.

Gabriel (2014) examines, “Research indicates that those who use these types of social networking sites tend to develop their online profiles to achieve a type of social identity they wish to portray”. Research suggest the social norms of each social media sites or apps defines the appropriateness of a selfie as it relates to posting. With a personal account(s), individuals have access and the ability to falsify their identities or portray themselves as more superior than in actuality. With this unlimited freedom, users are also able to exaggerate their lives and lifestyles as a falsified way of appealing to the public or their follower audience as someone else. “Scholars have theorized a connection between narcissism and selfie posting, as narcissism is associated with attention-seeking behavior and a fixation on physical attractiveness”.

Depending on the individual and their level of narcissism, they may engage in attention-seeking behavior for self-gratification or possibly to increase their overall self-esteem; numerous users engage in the behavior daily while using the social media sites.  One of the goals of social media users are to appeal to their audiences collectively, including posting content that is considered acceptable or glorifiable to the viewers. Degrees of self-esteem are a contributory factor in analyzing a relationship between selfie posting and narcissism; self-esteem has been proven to have a relationship with narcissism. In previous studies, self-esteem has been examined against narcissism, and narcissists specifically. In a past study, researchers examined individuals’ portrayals of authentic self-esteem against narcissism to find some significance between both variables. “Narcissism and authentic self-esteem represent very different expressions of positive self-evaluation. Authentic self-esteem is the genuine attitudes and truthful feelings of someone about themselves that isn’t fabricated or unrealistic.

According to Byrne& O’Brien (2014), using peer ratings allowed examinations of the effects that others experience in dealing with narcissists versus those with authentic high self-esteem. The findings of Zeigler-Hill and Wallace (2014) reports: Perhaps the most notable exception to this pattern is that Black individuals report higher levels of self-esteem than any other racial group in the United States including White individuals. Notably, self-esteem degrees existent among people of African descent is significantly different than the degrees of self-esteem among Europeans. The researchers utilized a large sample of participants conclusive of undergraduate students enrolled in Psychology courses; 403 participants in total were used.

The research findings were intriguing and significant especially due to the nature of the sample compared to the results. Although some of the participants were excluded due to not racially fitting the targeted samples, “Of the remaining 367 participants, 146 were Black (19 men and 127 women) and 221 were White (42 men and 179 women) according to. The study proved that black women and men in college were reported to have higher levels of self-esteem and narcissism compared to the white people who participated by using the NPI, Rosenburg Self-esteem Scale, and the Balanced Inventory of Reliable Responding as valid and reliable measures. These findings imply that black students have higher self-esteem and greater deegrees of narcissism possibly due to the confidence and underlying high levels self-love that black people generally possess as a race. The findings may be because of the historical events of generational, psychological degrading of black people.

The positive of high levels self esteem is the result of African-Americans loving themselves as humans and mentally knowing their worth. In another study previously conducted, researchers used two samples collectively larger that concluded results from the correlation between narcissism, selfie-taking, and self-esteem. In the first correlational study 348 adults were included, and in the second correlational study there were 491 students enrolled as undergraduates at a university. The findings reported that there was a significant correlation between narcissism and selfies. “Grandiose narcissism is generally associated with taking and posting more selfies – and especially true selfies with only the individual in it”. These findings are true possibly because of the representative samples including young adults which have been proven to be to most frequent users of social media and report the highest levels of narcissism in the United States.


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The Effect of Narcissism and Selfies on Self-Esteem. (2021, Dec 27). Retrieved from

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