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The seemingly fun spirited modern day version of self-portraiture the “Selfie” appeared innocently on the social media scene but is now giving rise to concerns and discussion as to its overall societal effect.

The advent of Social Neuroscience with the use of brain imaging helps us to understand the components of the social brain, focusing on studies of self- awareness/knowledge and self-regulation. It is likely that the brain has evolved distinct mechanism for knowing ourselves, knowing how others respond to us, detecting threats from within the social group, and regulating actions in order to avoid being excluded from those groups (Krendl & Heatherton 2009).

Neuroscientists are elaborating on how the importance of image and the Selfies are considered as being one of our natural instincts to reduce anxiety shielding us against the fear of losing control of our minds and lives by preserving our sense of self and showing our image for the world to see as we want to be seen (Joshua Sariñana).

London neuroscientist James Kilner comments on the difference between viewing images of others and viewing images of ourselves. Viewing images and facial expressions allows us to interpret and respond emotionally and socially. Without looking at our own face we rely on our sensory nervous system through the movement of our face to determine what we are trying to convey to others. Surprisingly to us through the selfie we can recognize inaccuracies. Is this why we can sometimes “feel” misunderstood and the “selfie” may be in fact be a very powerful self-help tool when used correctly.

Weighing the importance of image is succinctly summarized by Mark R. Leary, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University “From a social psychological standpoint, the selfie phenomenon seems to stem from two basic human motives. The first is to attract attention from other people. Because people’s positive social outcomes in life require that others know them, people are motivated to get and maintain social attention. By posting selfies, people can keep themselves in other people’s minds. In addition, like all photographs that are posted on line, selfies are used to convey a particular impression of oneself. Through the clothes one wears, one’s expression, staging of the physical setting, and the style of the photo, people can convey a particular public image of themselves, presumably one that they think will garner social rewards.” 

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