General Health & Nutrition

Selfie Nation: Taking Selfies Can Make You Happy

September 15, 2016

Everybody has one – a smartphone that is. With the fall semester in full effect, it’s rare to see a student on campus without one. Whether they’re playing Pokémon GO or posting hourly updates about their latest “first world” problems on social media, smartphones are great resources during times of need and times of boredom… and even sadness. If you’re a first-year student having a hard time adjusting to your new way of life, there may be something you can do to put a smile on your face.

A new study published in the Psychology of Well-Being has found that taking selfies and sharing them with your friends can make you happy. No Kidding?


The study ran for a month and involved 41 college students who were randomly assigned into three groups. The first group was asked to take a daily selfie while smiling. The second group was asked to take a daily picture of an object that made them happy. The last group was asked to take a daily picture of something that made another person happy. 


By using smartphone technology and analyzing the users’ emotional and psychological states, the study found that taking pictures and sharing them can positively affect one’s mood.

“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,” said 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.”

I remember my first year away from family and friends; it was really tough to adjust to my new surroundings. The low times were brought on by financial difficulties, loneliness, and the balancing act between varsity volleyball and classes. All of these pressures led to some pretty low times, despite being at a great university with my older brother a few minutes away from me.  

The team analyzed nearly 3,000 mood measurements during the study and noticed that all three groups experienced an increase in happiness. The selfie group became more confident and comfortable with their smiles over time, while those who took pictures of things that made them happy became more grateful and reflective. Finally, the group who took pictures to make others happy felt calmer and said their connection with friends and family helped relieve stress.

“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 senior author Gloria Mark, a professor of informatics. “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.”

Now there’s another reason to take your 34th selfie of the day – get snappin! 🙂



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