You’ve just posted a selfie on Instagram. But how will the response from the outside world make you feel on the inside?
Julie Maclean at Charles Sturt University is investigating how the ‘likes’ and comments that people receive on their Instagram photos affect their mental health.
“Photo taken, filter applied, post uploaded; but what happens next?” she asks.
“Technology has advanced such that people’s emotions can be changed through responses to photos shared,” she says.
Previous research has shown that students who share photos on social media are happier and more satisfied with their lives. Now, Maclean is digging deeper by studying the impact of specific photo types.
She is currently surveying people about what kinds of images they post – for example, selfies, memes, or shots of food, pets or nature – and the reactions they generate.
“Which types of photos are most beneficial for gaining likes or comments, and do they improve overall well-being?” she asks.
Considering how widely Instagram is used, the results could show us how to use the platform to boost our happiness, Maclean says.
“If sharing different types of photos has the ability to improve mental health, then we want to know what these photos are,” she says.
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