Researchers developed a test that could detect an individual's level of "selfitis," or obsession with taking selfies. Although selfitis was once just a hoax, the current research appears to confirm its existence and quantify just how severe one's case is.

Selfitis: Hoax Or Real?

With various social media platforms for people to work with, selfies are practically everywhere. In 2014, a news story appeared in the Adobo Chronicles claiming that the American Psychiatric Association (APA) confirmed the existence of "selfitis" or the obsessive-compulsive desire to take one's photos to post on social media. In the article, selfitis was described as "a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy."

The article has since been proven to be a hoax, but it fueled an onslaught of research into the subject. Today, selfitis is still not classified as a mental disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but researchers of a new study seems to not just confirm its existence, but they also found a way to measure just how severe an individual's case is in the form of their "Selfitis Behavior Scale."

Selfitis Defined

In the 2014 article, selfitis was described as having three levels: borderline, acute, and chronic. In this supposed classifications, individuals with borderline selfitis take three photos a day without posting them on social media, while those with an acute case also take three photos, which they post on social media. The most severe case of the supposed selfitis, chronic selfitis, was defined as an uncontrollable urge to take photos of oneself throughout the day and then posting them on social media at least six times a day.

There were six motivating factors identified to the act, namely to seek attention, to increase self-confidence, to connect with the environment or create memories, to be socially competitive, to improve mood, and to conform with a social group.

Selfitis Behavior Scale

Over 700 students participated in the second phase of the study, all of whom are from India which has the largest number of Facebook users and the largest number of deaths from dangerous selfie attempts. Of the 700, 400 of them fell into the conditions of the three catagories of selfitis. As a result, researchers were able to essentially confirm the existence of selfitis.

The Selfitis Behavior Scale involves scoring oneself from one to five based on a set of statements, with higher scores indicating a higher likelihood of having selfitis. For instance, two of the 20 statements include "I gain enormous attention by sharing my selfies on social media" and "Taking more selfies improves my mood and makes me feel happy."

"Whilst the story was revealed to be a hoax, it didn't mean that the condition of selfitis didn't exist. We have now appeared to confirm its existence and developed the world's first Selfitis Behaviour Scale to assess the condition," said Dr. Mark Griffiths of Nottingham Trent University, coauthor of the study.

The study with the test is published in the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction.

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