While many call the selfie culture ‘millennial narcissism’, a new study has found that this movement may be enhancing people’s overall well-being.
Researchers found that regularly snapping selfies and sharing the images with friends boosts people’s mood and ultimately makes them happier.
The findings suggest that taking one selfie a day will improve your confidence and make you more comfortable with yourself.
The first selfie is believed to have been taken in 1839 by an amateur chemist and photography enthusiast.
But these images have since evolved to become an important piece of our modern-day history.
Selfies have gained a bad reputation, as previous studies suggest people who snap and share lots of them are displaying dark traits – specifically narcissism.
Now, the University of California, Irvine has conducted ‘first-of-its-kind’ research that explores the effects photo taking has on self-perception, self-efficacy and pro-social behaviors.
‘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, a postdoctoral scholar in UCI’s Department of Informatics.
‘This is particularly useful information for returning college students to be aware of, since they face many sources of pressure.’
The team chose to observe college students for their research, because first year students have a lot more worries – financial difficulties, being away from home for the first time, feeling loneliness and isolation and loads of school work.
All of these factors can negatively impact students’ academic performance and lead to depression, the researchers noted.
‘The good news is that despite their susceptibility to strain, most college students constantly carry around a mobile device, which can be used for stress relief,’ Chen said.
‘Added to that are many applications and social media tools that make it easy to produce and send images.’
The goal of this study, she explained, was to 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.
For this study, Chen and her colleagues created and performed a four-week exercises with 41 college students – 28 female students and 13 male.
The group was instructed to go about their daily routines, such as going to class, school work and meeting with friends, all while participating in the research.
Each student was first interviewed prior to testing, where they were given a general questionnaire to fill out.
Researchers also uploaded a survey app onto the student’s phones to document their moods during the first ‘control’ week of the study.
A separate app was used for participants to take photos with and record their emotional states during the following three-weeks, which the researchers called the ‘intervention’ phase.
Using the first app, the students were instructed to record their moods three times throughout the day.
And during evening surveys, they were asked to give details about 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.
And 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.
The team collected close to 2,900 mood measurements during their study and found that subjects in all three of the photo groups experience increased positive moods.
Some in the selfie group reported being 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.
And those who took photos to make others happy became calmer and said that the connection to their friends and family helped relieve stress.
‘You see a lot of reports in the media about the negative impacts of technology use, and we look very carefully at these issues here at UCI,’ said senior author Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics.
‘But there have been expanded efforts over the past decade to study what’s become known as ‘positive computing,’ and I think this study shows that sometimes our gadgets can offer benefits to users.’
Source Daily Mail