An interesting study completed by the researchers at the University of California at Irvine showed that smartphone images taken as part of a person’s daily routine can actually significantly improve a person’s happiness.
Quite different from the sense that smartphones and social media might be increasing our personal stress, this study shows that the technology can actually be a positive force.
A Study Designed to Induce Happiness
This study was designed to demonstrate that tools like selfies and social media can actually create a positive experience for people. The study was divided into three different arms: a Selfie arm, a Personal arm, and an Others arm. The 41 participants in the study (13 men and 28 women) were randomly assigned to one of the arms.
In the Selfie arm, people were asked to take smiling selfies of themselves once a day using the special app that had been provided. In the Personal arm, participants were asked to use the app to take a picture of something that made them happy that day. And in the Others arm, people were supposed to use the app to take a picture of something they thought would make other people happy, then send the picture to that person. People could send the picture using their preferred method (e.g. Facebook, Instagram, email, etc.)
For the first week, all participants just went about their daily routines while reporting their mood. This established a baseline for the study. For the second through fourth weeks, people reported their mood throughout the day while taking the proper pictures as required by their study arm. Overall, nearly 3000 emotional data points were collected.
All Three Approaches Increased Happiness in Different Ways
Remarkably, the researchers discovered that all three approaches improved the mood of participants. But they worked in different ways.
In the Selfie group, people reported feeling more self-confident. They said they became more comfortable with their smiles and with taking pictures of their smiling faces. Although this is the opposite effect from what some cosmetic dentists have reported, it’s interesting to see.
The Personal group, by contrast, said they felt happier because they were more reflective. They spent more time thinking about themselves and the things that made them happy. And they became appreciative of just how many things there were to be happy about.
The Others group had the biggest increase in happiness, which they attributed to four different causes. First, they loved to get responses back from the person they had sent the photo to. They also felt that sending pictures allowed them to communicate with others. They found themselves taking pictures that represented shared memories, and when they connected with their strong ties, they experienced reduced stress levels.
Selfies Came with Increased Stress
Although all three groups experienced a boost in their mood, the Selfie group actually experienced the smallest increase in mood. Almost as many people reported that the Selfies caused them stress as reported the Selfies made them more confident in their smile. It’s possible that this may be related to how people felt about their smiles. Those who generally liked their smile but didn’t feel confident in it grew more confident, while those that didn’t like their smile became stressed by having to smile.
This reflects the natural dichotomy of a smile. If you are comfortable with it, it can make you happier, but if not, having to smile in public (or a selfie) can be stressful.
If you are a person who’s unhappy with their smile, we can help you get one that you’ll be fully confident in. To learn more about smile makeovers in Las Vegas, please call (702) 873-0324 today for an appointment with cosmetic dentist Dr. James B. Polley.