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Photos seem to be more popular than ever before, especially selfies. Almost 300 million photos on Instagram are selfies, and it turns out, there are several psychological reasons that explain why they’ve have become so widely shared and loved. Here’s a breakdown that explains the science behind selfies:

People Notice Faces First: according to face tracking studies, profile pictures are the first place people usually look on social media profiles. People are naturally drawn to pictures of faces because they grab their attention and according to Dr. Owen Churches, “people respond differently to faces than they do to other object categories.”

Faces Catch Our Gaze: the gaze of people in pictures also makes us look towards a certain spot or make a connection. When they’re looking straight at you, it catches your attention and sticks in your mind. And when they look towards a certain spot, your gaze is pulled in that direction, too.

Faces Create Empathy: one more reason why we are so attracted to and engaged by selfies is that they create empathy between us and the person pictured. In a study done on radiologists, adding pictures to their patients’ profiles increased the empathy between the doctors and patients, which further proves this point.

Why Selfies Are Good: one of the great things about selfies is that they can help boost self-esteem. A survey done by TODAY/AOL showed that 41% of adult women and 65% of teenage girls said that selfies helped to improve their self-esteem levels.

And Why They Aren’t: one of the downsides of taking selfies is that they can hurt relationships. A UK study showed that when Facebook users post lots of selfies, their friends feel less intimate with them than with those who post less selfies.