Step aside, selfie haters. That front-facing camera may be a secret to increased happiness, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine studied college students and found that snapping selfies and sharing images with friends had a positive effect on their psychological and emotional states. The results were published in the journal Psychology of Well-Being.
The study’s authors examined 41 college students ― 28 females and 13 males ― as they went about their normal school routine, including going to class and doing homework. (Let’s be real: That’s enough to influence anyone’s mood. You can only go up from there, right?)
The first week, which served as the control week, the students were told to document their mood three times per day using an app, writing down any events that happened that may have influenced how they felt. The next three weeks, the students were instructed to also take photos when they recorded their moods.
The volunteers were randomly assigned to a group that took one of three types of photos: A selfie in which they were smiling, a shot of something that made them happy, and a picture of something they thought would make another person happy, which was then sent to that individual.
At the end of the study, researchers had collected more than 2,000 mood documentations from all of the subjects. They discovered that positive moods increased in each group, but those in the selfie group reported becoming more confident and comfortable with themselves over time.
It’s worth noting that this is a relatively small study in terms of participants, and it had an uneven number of females and males. That can make it hard to be totally conclusive when it comes to a larger population.
But the research does provide some rather encouraging insight when it comes to technology, especially given the fact that a lot of previous research shows that it can take a toll on mental well-being.
“You see a lot of reports in the media about the negative impacts of technology use ... 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,” senior author Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics at UC Irvine, said in a statement.
Maybe Kim Kardashian really is onto something.