The human brain is wired to produce strong behavior as a result of what is considered an 'in-group' – people the individual already has an emotional relationship to or are familiar with – and 'out-group' – people with which the individual does not already identify. The sensation experienced through the familiarity of an 'in-group' is traditionally essential to a sense of belonging and safety. Body experiences and perceptions within a group setting generate a major data resource through this behavior. The data gives access to the interior world of the subjects and their personal understanding of what constitutes their social context.
The instability of our contemporary economic and political system has increased a need for individuals to strengthen self-construction and identity, which helps facilitate a better sense of belonging. This construction is most easily done via external means, supported by the equation that once someone has succeeded in obtaining an external aspect that defines their belonging to a group, there is an equal chance that someone has not. This fuels an already present economic disparity as well as an intense fear of failure in regards to things like physical appearance or even what someone does for a living. One common coping mechanism has manifested itself in what we call ‘the group photo’, which is used to strengthen both in-group and out-group sensations. These images of people grouped together have become ever-present in our daily visual encounters, seemingly increasing as tensions that challenge notions of identity, race, religion, and safety continue to rise.