Photograph Use on Social Networks

Photo retouch

What is it with psychiatrists and photography. Something comparable to psychiatrists and detectives?
As you may well have noticed Dr Shock photo’s can be viewed on Flickr, at least some of them. Another Belgian psychiatrist on his blogroll does the same. Well may be more on this topic of psychiatrists and photography later.

Psychiatrists are not the only one posting photographs. Photo posting has also become one of the most apparent components of identity performance on profiles of social network sites.
Why do individuals post and comment on photos on the Internet? It can be done to enhance interaction and relationship formation. But what kind of individual factors make someone put photos online and use them for online communication?

Recently a study was published about patterns of online photo use and how they vary by the individual difference characteristic of self-consciousness. This was done with 231 students from one university
in South Korea, who owned and maintained Cyworld profiles (called “mini-homepages”).

The researchers looked at private self consciousness and public self consciousness

Self-consciousness (SC) refers to the disposition to direct one’s attention to self-related aspects either inward on the covert aspects of self relevant to inner thoughts and feelings (private SC) or outward on the overt aspects of self on public display (public SC).

Photo use on social networks by Korean students was huge. Mostly photos containing oneself and/or significant others as well as photos capturing life experiences were posted frequently.
Students high on public SC are more concerned about the self as a social object and are better capable of predicting their impression on others. These were also the students with the highest posting frequency of photos containing oneself and/or significant others as well as photos capturing life experiences. Private self consciousness had no relationship to photo posting. Gender and age did not influence the outcomes of both forms of self consciousness and photo posting frequency.

What does this add to our knowledge of computer mediated communication?
Photo use is not mainly a situational factor or a channel characteristic that affects the development of social interaction and relationship formation, it is also a matter of individual choice. Since individual public self consciousness influences the frequency of photo posting this study emphasizes the role of
individual difference characteristics in computer mediated communication.

Possible explanation of the relationship between high public self consiousness and frequent photo postings

Computers allows online users to spend unlimited time constructing and refining
photos before posting them, to edit photos to maximize their gratified needs, and to control the information disclosed through photos by masking involuntary cues. Editing photos is comparable to
editing texts on the Internet such that the photo editing tools provided by Cyworld or other social network sites are likely to enhance users’ impression management.

Well Dr Shock is probably also high on public self consciousness since he is meticulous in choosing his photo’s for his Flickr account
Minsun Shim, Min Ju Lee, Sang Hee Park (2008). Photograph Use on Social Network Sites among South Korean College Students: The Role of Public and Private Self-Consciousness CyberPsychology & Behavior, 0 (0), 2147483647-5 DOI: 10.1089/cpb.2007.0104