Selfies Are the New Prozac, Study Suggests

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Feeling down in the dumps? It might be time for a solo photo shoot.

A study from University of California-Irvine found that taking selfies can actually make you a happier person.

To reach that conclusion, computer scientists at the school designed and conducted a four-week study involving 41 college students — 28 females and 13 male. During the first "control" week, students used an app on their phones to document their moods. Then, during the following three weeks, they were asked to take photos and record their emotional states.

Participants were randomly assigned to take one of three types of photos to help the researchers determine how the activity affected their moods: a selfie, taken daily while smiling; an image of something that made them happy; or a photo of something that would make someone else happy (which was then sent to that person).

Over the course of the study, the researchers collected nearly 2,900 mood measurements and found that subjects in all three groups "experienced increased positive moods," according to a news release from the school. Some of those in the selfie group, for instance, reported becoming more "confident and comfortable with their smiling photos over time." Meanwhile, those taking photos of things that made them happy "became more reflective and appreciative" while the ones who took photos for others "became calmer and said that the connection to their friends and family helped relieve stress."

As anyone who's been to college can attest, higher education can lead to a whole lot of stress, between being broke and away from home for the first time to feeling lonely, isolated, and overwhelmed by school work. But the study's lead author, Yu Chen, a postdoctoral scholar in UCI's Department of Informatics, said the results suggest students can combat stress and feel happier by taking and sharing these three types of images.

"Despite their susceptibility to strain, most college students constantly carry around a mobile device, which can be used for stress relief," Chen said.

The results of the study were recently published in Psychology of Well-Being.

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