Several studies may have shown that those who take selfies are more likely to be narcissistic or insecure and need validation. However, a new study by researchers at the University of California Irvine show that regularly taking selfies actually makes them happier.
Scientists from the university determined that college students take selfies when they wish to stop feeling blue. In their study published in the journal Psychology of Well-Being, they state that taking and sharing of certain types of images everyday can positively affect us.
The researchers cite financial difficulties, homesickness, loneliness, isolation and the difficulty of coursework as stressors that can lead to poor academic performance as well as depression. However, college students use mobile devices for stress relief.
The study involved analyzing 41 college students, 28 girls and 13 boys for four weeks. The participants had to be interviewed and fill out a questionnaire.
The students were also given a survey app that can document their moods during the first week of the study and a different app to take their assigned photos and record their emotional states during the three-week intervention phase.
The participants were randomly assigned to take either a selfie while smiling, an image of something that makes the student happy or an image of something that would make another person happy.
Overall, the students reported their moods thrice daily. They also documented any significant events that affected their emotions during the day with an evening survey.
Generally, the students assigned to take the three types of photos experienced an increased positive mood. Those who were assigned to take selfies became more confident and comfortable with their smiling photos. The participants who photographed objects that make them happy became more appreciative and more reflective while those who photographed objects that would make another person happy became calmer and experienced reduced stressed levels when they bond with family and friends.
“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,” points out the study’s 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.”