People Tilt Their Heads in Selfies Shot in NYC, Don't Smile in Moscow

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There is not just an art to the selfie. Apparently there is also a science, founded in where you're taking said photo.

Selfiecity is a study based on photos that people took of themselves in five different cities: Bangkok, Berlin, Moscow, New York and Sao Paulo. Researchers documented a number of characteristics, from age and gender to smile and head tilt. All of the photos were snapped on a mobile device from December 4 through 12.

After narrowing 656,000 selfies down to 3,200 (640 from each city), the team came to a number of conclusions. No matter which part of the world you're in, more females are taking selfies than males. The average age of the photographer clocks in at 23.7 years old. But not all self-portraits are created with equal happiness. People tend to smile more in Bangkok and Sao Paolo, while in Moscow they smile the least.

A team of eight worked on the project. They enlisted the help of Gnip for social data and Orbeus Inc. for face analysis software. An essay for the project by City University of New York Ph.D. student Alise Tifentale notes that the study of selfies can lead to findings beyond the characteristics of the photos.

"Selfies make us aware about a particular method of self-fashioning and communication that is historically time-specific in the sense that it could materialize only in the moment when several technologies have reached a certain level of development and accessibility," Tifentale, who worked on Selfiecity, wrote. "These include the availability of Internet connection, hardware such as easy to use smartphones with cameras, and software that drives the online image-sharing platforms, geo-tagging of uploaded images and other features."

The term selfie was proclaimed last year's International Word of the Year by the Oxford Dictionaries. Yet while this particular photo type may seem prevalent on your social media feeds, selfies comprise only about 4 percent of the total posts on Instagram.

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