New York: Taking smiling selfies with your smartphone and sharing them with your friends can help make you a happier person, say computer scientists at the University of California, Irvine.
“This study shows that sometimes our gadgets can offer benefits to users,” said senior author Gloria Mark, Professor of Informatics.
“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,” lead author Yu Chen, a post-doctoral scholar, added.
By conducting exercises via smartphone photo technology and gauging users’ psychological and emotional states, the researchers found that the daily taking and sharing of certain types of images can positively affect people.
Chen and her colleagues designed and conducted a four-week study involving 41 college students.
The participants — 28 female and 13 male — were instructed to continue their normal day-to-day activities (going to class, doing schoolwork, meeting with friends, etc.) while taking part in the research.
Each was invited to the informatics lab for an informal interview and to fill out a general questionnaire and consent form. 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.
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, said the study published in the journal Psychology of Well-Being.
The students taking photos of objects that made them happy became more reflective and appreciative.
And those who took photos to make others happy became calmer and said that the connection to their friends and family helped relieve stress.