Using “Scientists Who Selfie” to disrupt stereotypes of scientists (PLOS One)

Public engagement has been a long-term challenge for scientists. The rise of social media has generated a novel avenue for connecting with a wider audience; however, many scientists walk a fine line between being personal and professional, often posting images of their work but not themselves. A recent study from Jarreau et al. aimed to determine the impact of scientists posting self‑portraits (selfies) on public perception of scientists. To test this, groups of participants were shown either selfies from non-scientists, scientific images posted by male or female scientists, or selfies of male or female scientists working in the lab. After viewing the images, participants were asked a series of questions about how they perceived the warmth and competence of scientists, and how much they trusted them. Participants who viewed selfies from scientists felt more warmth and trust towards scientist on Instagram than those that saw only scientific images. Furthermore, their perception of the competence of scientists was unchanged from individuals who saw either non-scientific selfies or scientific images. Taken together, these results indicate that making a stronger human connection through posting selfies may increase public support and trust of scientists without appearing less professional. (Summary by Nick Segerson). PLOS One 10.1371/journal.pone.0216625