Clicking selfies can make you happy: study

Los Angeles, 15 September 2016: Snapping selfies with your smartphone and sharing photos with friends can make you a happier person, according to a first-of-its-kind study.



By conducting exercises via smartphone photo technology and gauging users' psychological and emotional states, researchers at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) found that taking and sharing of certain types of images daily can positively affect people.


"Our research showed that practicing exercises that can promote happiness via smartphone picture taking and sharing can lead to increased positive feelings for those who engage in it," said lead author Yu Chen, postdoctoral scholar at UCI.


The goal of the study was to help researchers understand the effects of photo taking on well-being in three areas: self-perception, in which people manipulated positive facial expressions; self-efficacy, in which they did things to make themselves happy; and pro-social, in which people did things to make others happy.


Researchers designed and conducted a four-week study involving 41 college students.


The subjects - 28 female and 13 male - were instructed to continue their normal day-to-day activities (going to class, doing schoolwork, meeting with friends) while taking part in the research.


The scientists helped students load a survey app onto their phones to document their moods during the first "control" week of the study.


Participants used a different app to take photos and record their emotional states over the following three-week "intervention" phase.


Subjects reported their moods three times a day using the smartphone apps. They were also asked to provide details of any significant events that may have affected their emotions during the course of the day.


The project involved three types of photos to help the researchers determine how smiling, reflecting and giving to others might impact users' moods.


The first was a selfie, to be taken daily while smiling. The second was an image of something that made the photo taker happy. The third was a picture of something the photographer believed would bring happiness to another person (which was then sent to that person).


Participants were randomly assigned to take photos of one type.


Researchers collected nearly 2,900 mood measurements during the study and found that subjects in all three groups experienced increased positive moods.


Some participants in the selfie group reported becoming more confident and comfortable with their smiling photos over time.


The students taking photos of objects that made them happy became more reflective and appreciative. Those who took photos to make others happy became calmer and said that the connection to their friends and family helped relieve stress.


The study was published in the journal Psychology of Well-Being.


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