It’s easy to dismiss the selfie as a vapid emblem of youth and celebrity culture, but a new study found that taking photos of oneself can actually lead to happiness.
In fact, selfies can lead to a better emotional well-being, according to a study conducted last month by researchers at the University of California Irvine and published in the Psychology of Well-Being.
In the study, 41 students — 28 female and 13 male — were asked to smile and snap a selfie with their smartphone every day for three weeks and document their moods. The students were then broken into three groups: The first group was asked to take a smiling selfie every day; the second was asked to take pictures of things that made them happy; and the third was asked to take photos of things they thought might make other people happy, then send the photos to those people. At the end of the month, the study found that all three groups had experienced an overall increase in happiness.
Researchers found that some participants in the selfie group reported feeling more "mindful, reflective, and appreciative" with their smiling photos over time.
“As days went on, I got more comfortable taking photos of myself. If you feel good about yourself, then [a] selfie would be a way to capture that,” said one student.
Additionally, students who sent photos to other people felt more connected to that person, usually a significant other or family member, and were calmer overall.
“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 Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics and senior author of the study. “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.”
So forget what you’ve heard about the negative effects of technology and make like a Kardashian.