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Addicted to selfies? You might have 'selfitis,' a new study says

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All those selfies clogging up our Instagram feeds might add up to a medical condition, a new study suggests.

Researchers in the United Kingdom and India recently released the results of a study looking at the notion of “selfitis,” described as the compulsion people feel to excessively post photos of themselves on their social media accounts.

The study looked at focus groups to determine the reasons people excessively post selfies, asking questions like “What compels you to take selfies?” and “Do you feel addicted to taking selfies?” Their responses were grouped into attributes like “social competition” and “attention seeking” and were then used to create a survey to weigh those factors in 400 people.

Those findings were used to identify three levels of “selfitis”: borderline (those who take at least three selfies a day but don’t post them on social media), acute (those who take at least three selfies a day and post them on social media) and chronic (those who feel an urge to post selfies constantly and post them more than six times a day).

The results were published Nov. 29 in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

“Typically, those with the condition suffer from a lack of self-confidence and are seeking to ‘fit in’ with those around them, and may display symptoms similar to other potentially addictive behaviours,” Dr. Janarthanan Balakrishnan, a research associate from Nottingham Trent’s Department of Psychology, told The Telegraph.

While that might make sense to those of us thumbing past selfie after selfie on social media, the study, and the diagnosis of selfitis, has its detractors.

"Selfitis doesn't exist, and it shouldn't exist,” Dr. Mark Salter, a spokesman for The Royal College of Psychiatrists, told The Telegraph. “There is a tendency to try and label a whole range of complicated and complex human behaviours with a single word. But that is dangerous because it can give something reality where it really has none."

Do you have ‘selfitis’?

The study uses a 20-question survey, the Selfitis Behavior Scale, to determine whether a subject has selfitis. You can take the survey below. Rate each statement from 1 to 5, with 1 meaning “strongly disagree” and 5 meaning “strongly agree”

Using the statements below, rate them 1 to 5, where 5 is strongly agree, and 1 is strongly disagree. A higher score means you’re more likely to have selfitis.

  1. Taking selfies gives me a good feeling to better enjoy my environment.
  2. Sharing my selfies creates healthy competition with my friends and colleagues.
  3. I gain enormous attention by sharing my selfies on social media.
  4. I am able to reduce my stress level by taking selfies.
  5. I feel confident when I take a selfie.
  6. I gain more acceptance among my peer group when I take selfies and share them on social media.
  7. I am able to express myself more in my environment through selfies.
  8. Taking different selfie poses helps increase my social status.
  9. I feel more popular when I post my selfies on social media.
  10. Taking more selfies improves my mood and makes me feel happy.
  11. I become more positive about myself when I take selfies.
  12. I become a strong member of my peer group through selfie postings.
  13. Taking selfies provides better memories about the occasion and the experience.
  14. I post frequent selfies to get more ‘likes’ and comments on social media.
  15. By posting selfies, I expect my friends to appraise me.
  16. Taking selfies instantly modifies my mood.
  17. I take more selfies and look at them privately to increase my confidence.
  18. When I don’t take selfies, I feel detached from my peer group.
  19. I take selfies as trophies for future memories.
  20. I use photo editing tools to enhance my selfie to look better than others.
Kris Kerzman

Kris Kerzman is a digital content producer for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. He's also a dad, a board game enthusiast, and a sucker for an Oxford comma. He can be reached at (701) 241-5466 or You can follow him on Twitter at @kriskerzman.

(701) 241-5466