Can selfies make you happier? Scientists say yes - but another type of photo is better

Researchers found those who took daily selfies had increased confidence.
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Researchers found those who took daily selfies had increased confidence.

Are you a fan of documenting your every duckface with a selfie? You might be a whole lot happier than the selfie-haters of the world.

Scientists at University of California, Irvine, have found that regular taking selfies and sending photos to friends makes you happier.

A team from UCI's Donald Bren School of Information & Computer Sciences researched the impact of taking and sharing smartphone photos, with their findings published in the Psychology of Well-Being journal.

With university students in the northern hemisphere heading back to college in September, the researchers pondered whether the back-to-school blues could be combatted with a smartphone - and found taking a selfie a day and sharing it could help reduce their stress.

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In the four-week study, 41 college students were given a smartphone app to take photos.

The group was split into three groups, each required to take a different type of photo: a smiling selfie, something that made the study participant happy, and something they believed would bring happiness to someone else, which was then sent to that person.

They were asked to report on their mood three times a day.

From nearly 2900 mood measurements over the course of the study, the researchers found that all groups had an increase in positive moods, with slight differences between each group.

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The selfie group reported becoming more confident and comfortable with their smiling photos over time, while those who photographed 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.

"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," postdoctoral scholar and lead author Yu Chen said.

Carrying a smartphone was like having a stress-reduction tool in your pocket, helping reduce the students' fears about things like financial difficulties, being away from home, feelings of loneliness and isolation, and course work, and help stave off depression.

Amid negative reports about the impacts of technology - including selfie-related deaths - senior author Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics, said the study into "positive computing" revealed "sometimes our gadgets can offer benefits to users".

 - Stuff

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