When most people look at a selfie, all they see is an moderately narcissistic person staring back at them. The truth can actually be a lot more complex than that, at least according to a new analysis of more than 3,000 self-portraits called SelfieCity. These self-directed photos can actually reveal cultural stereotypes, and behavioural preferences in different cities around the world.
“Typically, data visualization is based on numbers. However, a single number can’t summarize a photo. It is not a ‘data point’ but a whole world, rich in meanings, emotions, and visual patterns,” said Moritz Stefaner in an interview with CoDesign.
The team collected 656,000 Instagram photos from New York, Bangkok, Moscow, Sao Paolo, and Berlin at the end of last year, after which they identified the top 640 photos from each city using people hired on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Facial analysis software then gathered information on various aspects of the people in the photos, such as the size of their face, the tilt of their head, and whether or not they were smiling.
Some of the discoveries include the fact that women take more selfies than men, and those in São Paulo hold the camera much higher than other women around the world. Younger people are more likely to take selfies than adults, while men in Moscow are also less likely to smile than anywhere else on the planet.
You can uncover many more details for yourself over at the SelfieCity website, where all of the data is freely available.