A viral article published in 2014 claimed that the American Psychiatric Association had established a new mental disorder called "selfitis" -- that is, the obsessive taking of selfies. That article, though fake, inspired a real exploratory study to determine whether a condition like the one described in the article could exist...and, the research shows, it very well may.

Of note, the fake viral article had claimed that selfitis existed across three levels of severity: borderline, acute, and chronic. To determine whether that could be true, researchers Mark D. Griffiths and Janarthanan Balakrishnan conducted interviews with a focus group of 225 Indian university students to attempt to create what they called the Selfitis Behavior Scale (SBS) based on those three severities.

Having created the SBS, and as explained in the recently published study, the researchers then attempted to validate it using exploratory factor analysis (EFA). For this, they recruited 734 total students, and identified 400 students as belonging to one of the three severity categories they'd outlined -- the breakdown being 34% borderline, 40.5% acute, and 25.5% chronic. The most severely affected age group was 16- to 20-years-old at 56%, while 21 to 25 was the next highest age group at 34%. As well, men represented 57.5% of the categories, while women represented 42.5%.

As a result of the EFA, the two researchers were also able to identify half a dozen factors referred to in the study as "selfitis motivations" -- they include social competition, seeking attention, modifying mood, boosting self-confidence, conformity, and enhancing one's environment.

The researchers note that the study has some limitations, including that the data was self-reported and "subject to many well-known biases." However, it indicates that a mental disorder like "selfitis" could possibly exist and that it is worth further investigation. "As with internet addiction," the study states, "the concepts of “selfitis” and “selfie addiction” started as a hoax, but recent research including the present paper has begun to empirically validate its existence."

Via: PetaPixel