Here’s some data we didn’t expect to see: New research reveals that, contrary to pretty much every other study out there, taking selfies can make people happier.
Yep. Researchers at University of California, Irvine had students take snaps of themselves and then share the images with friends every day over the course of a month.
The surprising upshot? Students reported that they were happier and more confident as the month progressed. (The study only involved 41 students, not exactly a massive sampling, but the results are nevertheless compelling.)
To test the theory, researchers divided the students into three groups: Those who took smiling selfies (even when they admitted to faking the good feelings on down days); those who took snaps of things that made them happy; and finally, the third group documented things they thought others would enjoy.
It turns out the selfie group reported the highest levels of happiness both during and after the experiment.
“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,” says leading author Yu Chen.
But before you start encouraging your child to turn their smartphones on themselves, keep in mind that other studies put selfie-taking in a far less flattering light. It has been associated with body dysmorphic disorder where people use social media networks such as Instagram to dissect their appearance in the company of others. Still other studies link lots of selfie-taking with a variety of anti-social traits, including narcissism, psychopathy and self-objectification.
So do selfies help self esteem or hurt it?
Research appears to be at a deadlock on this one.
Of this, however, there is little doubt: If you’re under 40, you’re taking selfies. Plenty of them. In fact, you’re probably averaging over one hour a week taking and posting photos of your self.