Experts in the media: Two Mary Washington Professors study selfies and self-objectification

Experts in the media: Two Mary Washington Professors study selfies and self-objectification

January 28, 20202 min read

Psychological Science Professors Miriam Liss and Mindy Erchull’s research on selfie behaviors, self-objectification and depressive behaviors in women was recently published in the psychology journal, Sex Roles. Women are given the message that they are valued for their physical attractiveness above other qualities, and the study examines how self-objectification interplays with online behaviors.

A study recently published in the journal Sex Roles sheds new light on the relationship between selfie behaviors, self-objectification, and depressive symptoms in women.

Since women often receive the message that they are valued primarily for their physical attractiveness, the researchers were interested in exploring how self-objectification was related to online behaviors.

“I have been collaborating with Mindy Erchull on issues related to objectification theory for several years. I had also begun to be interested in the effects of social media on people’s experiences and had recently taught a senior seminar on the topic,” explained the study’s lead author, Miriam Liss, a professor of psychological science at University of Mary Washington.

“Mindy and I became interested in how objectification relates to experiences with social media — particularly Instagram, which is a platform that is based on posting visual images. Other studies on the topic had largely looked at how feelings of self-objectification can be a consequence of social media. We wanted to look at how self-objectification can change how one behaves when taking and posting selfies.”

For their study, the researchers surveyed 164 female students from a public liberal arts university in the Southeastern United States. The survey assessed photo manipulation, average number of selfies, body surveillance, perceived social media deception, and depressive symptoms.

Most of the participants reported taking 2-5 selfies before posting one to Instagram, while approximately 5 percent reported taking more than 20 on average. The researchers found that women who took a larger number of selfies before choosing one to post to Instagram tended to have higher levels of body surveillance and more symptoms of depression.  PsyPost, January 12

The article and details of the study are below.

If you are a journalist looking to learn more about this topic or if you are interested in speaking with Professor Miriam Liss or Professor Mindy Erchull – simply click on either expert’s icon to arrange an interview today.

Connect with:
  • Miriam Liss
    Miriam Liss Professor of Psychology

    Dr. Liss is internationally known expert on parenting and work-family balance issues.

  • Mindy Erchull
    Mindy Erchull Professor of Psychological Science

    Dr. Erchull focuses on feminist issues.

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