What does your Instagram feed say about you?

What do YOUR Instagram snaps say about you? Psychologist reveals why exotic beach photos show you’re craving validation while people who share achievements want a ‘reward’

  • Expert believes we share ‘idealistic’ pictures of ourselves to boost self esteem
  • Does your selfie show you want to impress someone or you want validation
  • Expert takes a look at team FEMAIL’s best Instagram snaps and assesses them

Have you ever wondered what your Instagram feed, or better, what someone else’s Instagram pictures says about them?

After research, from giffgaff, that showed that over half (64 per cent) of us have created an online persona, a different version of ourselves on social media – we talk to the experts about what our posts actually say about us.

Dr Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic, in London, believes that the ‘photos we tend to feel best about sharing on social media are those that portray the more idealistic aspects of life, and the version of ourselves we deem most ‘perfect’.

‘In these cases, it can be used as a strategy – an external validation – for boosting self-esteem, particularly if someone feels they aren’t getting their needs met in their daily life.’ 

Lynn Morrison, director of social media marketing company The Marketing Chair takes a look through team FEMAIL’s best Instagram snaps and reveals what it says about us when we posted them…

Hayley, on the beach enjoying the views during a holiday to Zanzibar earlier this year 

Landscape photos 

Have you ever been on holiday and wanted to boast to friends and work colleagues back at home about where you are, instead of just enjoying the moment?  

Lynn believes that this could mean that you are seeking validation from those closest to you: ‘The beach or landscape photos could be you saying, “I’m not missing work, but I am missing the daily validation that I matter. Here are some photos to remind you that even when I’m not there, I’m still better than the rest of you”.’

She went on to say: ‘Landscapes are the best for highlighting your social status and bank account balance, without being obnoxious about it. When everyone else you know is slaving away in a dreary office, your sunset beach photo is bound to inspire a minimum of envy.’

Harriet’s beach photo, posted last year, from Sri Lanka, could be showing that she is looking for validation for those back at home 


Love them or hate them, you’ll never be free for selfies on Instagram – however the experts believe a selfie is a way of trying to impress someone, as they’re always well prepped.

‘Does anyone purposely post a bad selfie? 30min prepping your make-up, 15 duck mouth poses and one clever prop are the minimum requirements for any selfie,’ Lynn says.

‘They’re the best proof of life photos, even if the seven filters you applied mean the end result doesn’t resemble you at all.’

“They always say: ‘I’m clever, impromptu, quirky and living my best life. Also, my make-up just happens to be perfect”,’ she also went on to say.

Sarah posted this selfie last November while she was on holiday in St Lucia – but does it means that she is ‘hoping to impress’?

Luke posted this funny selfie, complete with a chicken  – maybe he was trying to impress his vegetarian friends? 

An ‘achievement’ photo

When we post bragging photos, whether its how we’re about to run a marathon or how we’ve accidentally ended up at the most sought after VIP event, experts say that we’re looking for a reward that we’ve achieved something- and normally that’s in the form of likes.

‘By default, when we post publicly on social media on some level we’re looking for affirmation for something we’re doing,’ Dr Elena said.

‘I personally love a good achievement photo because everyone either plays is straight, like it is no biggee that they’re on centre court at Wimbledon this week, or they go way over the top to showcase their own disbelief at what they’ve accomplished,’ Lynn also says.

‘As viewers we love them because we know how much hard work went into getting there in the first place.’

Monica posted this photo to her Instagram feed last year when she bagged herself a ticket to the Brits in 2018

Chloe added this picture to her Instagram feed last year  – as she she got ready for the marathon and her friends came to support her 

Action pictures  

Whether you are out and about or skiing down mountains, an action picture is, according to Lynn, the best way to show people that you ‘play as hard as you work’.

The ‘sociable and daring side’ of you also comes out in the pictures and Lynn jokes: ‘I’ve found that a good action shot can cover for a month’s worth of Netflix and actual chill.’ 

While she believes you can use the photo to remind every one of this side of you, especially when you’re Instagram stories haven’t been updated in weeks.  

Dr Elena goes on to say that, whether its a selfie, an action picture or just a picture of your dog, that to some extent, these pictures are normal and healthy. 

‘It only becomes negative when our self-worth gets wrapped up in it and we need external validation to feel good about ourselves e.g. ‘x’ number of likes. Self-worth must always come from within,’ she says.

Harriet skiing in Canada – showing her sociable and daring side as she ‘plays as hard as she works’ 

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