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Why Selfies Might Not Be Such a Bad Thing After All

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We all have that snap-happy friend who blows up our newsfeed with constant selfies. Ugh. It can be annoying, and we already know that others might not be as into your selfies as you are. But as it turns out, taking those selfies might make you feel a mood boost—if they're a very specific kind, according to a new study published in Psychology of Well-Being.

Researchers from the University of California, Irvine worked with a group of college students to figure out how snapping different types of pictures throughout the day on their smartphones influenced their moods. Over the course of the study, the students were randomly assigned to take one of three different types of photos daily: smiling selfies, photos of things that made them happy, and photos of things they thought would make someone else in their lives happy. Afterwards, they recorded their moods.

Each type of photo produced different effects by the end of the three-week research period. People felt reflective and mindful when they took pics to make themselves happy. And they felt more confident and comfortable with themselves when they took smiley selfies. Importantly, people noted that they only got these positive selfie side effects when they didn't feel like they were faking or forcing a smile, and taking photos with a natural smile got easier by the end of the study. The photos for other people's happiness also had a super-positive effect, making people feel comfort when they received responses from the person who got a mood boost from their photos. Feeling connected to others also helped reduce stress.

More than anything, this study shows that you can use your smartphone camera in a way that helps you feel better about yourself and connect with people, rather than as a "personal isolation device," as smartphones are often called. "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, in a press release. "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."

So, for a little bit of positive energy, say goodbye to the duck lips and hello to a smile.

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