Female selfie posting can be driven by aggression

It is associated with intimidatory self-presentation strategies.


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 posting more than 40 selfies a month.

A new study from Swansea University 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.

The study found that female selfie posting is associated with intimidatory self-presentation strategies, linked to higher levels of aggression.

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

The degree to which females used intimidating self-presentational techniques was the best predictor of selfie uploading. The more they shared selfies, the more they exhibited behaviors in the real world intended to induce fear in others. These selfies weren’t specifically aimed at men or women but at online communities.

Men did not exhibit a correlation between their real-world intimidating self-presentation and selfie sharing, but their need to be accepted and to avoid punishment predicted the sharing of selfies.

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 the female personality.”

“These results suggest that traditional androcentric views of aggression must 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.”

“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.”

“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.”

“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 social-role norms or their absence in online settings.”

Journal Reference:

  1. Phil Reed. Intimidatory assertive self-presentation in selfie posting is greater in females than males. Vol. 11 No. 2 (2022): The Journal of Social Media in Society. Link to Paper
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