Positive Affect through Smartphone Photography

Technology is a major aspect is today’s society. We are constantly surrounded by it on a day to day basis. However, is it beneficial to us? The scholarly article that I read was about a research study that focused on how smartphone photography can increase positivity and relieve stress. As the researchers stated, consistently living under stress can lead to serious health problems like depression, anxiety disorders, heart disease, blood pressure and diabetes. As college students, we can experience a high level of stress due to being away from our family, feeling isolated and having a heavy amount of workload. However, there are many methods that help us cope with stress. Since we are the so called ‘net decade’ the researchers wanted to see if there was a correlation between information technology and human well-being. Therefore, a couple researchers came together to conduct an experiment that could possibly help increase an individual’s happiness. The experiment consisted of a 4-week study with 41 participants. They were told to a take a photo every day in one of the three conditions whether it was a selfie photo with a smiling expression, a photo of something that makes oneself happy and a photo of something that makes another person happy. The main findings after the experiment was that all the participants found a positive effect in each condition and their overall happiness levels increased throughout the experiment.

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In class we discussed that a justification is when a study contributes to explanations or significant ideas, when it modifies, contradicts, or extends them. In this study, the justification was explained as an experiment to test the correlation between a smartphone camera and the well-being of a person. The study consisted of a 4-week experiment instructing the participants to take photos and consistently keep track of their happiness and overall well-being. In today’s world, mental illness is an “ongoing discussion”. Scientists and psychologists in various fields have been working on ways to advance the informatics to helping people manage their emotional well-being. With smart technology increasing, this study is relatable and could be a step in the research of mental health illnesses. The authors thoroughly explained each step of the experiment and how each aspect is going to factor in.

The main role of the theory in this article is to investigate and find the positive psychology that will show a positive effect on the practice of taking photos. To begin with, smartphone photography has been a major positive impact in people’s lives due documenting life events, sharing photos with friends and family and posting photos on social media. Over the years, social media has become worldwide and a main component to human satisfaction. The authors theory aligned perfectly with their results of the experiment. They main focus was on three concepts: self-perception, where people take pictures based on a positive facial expression, self-efficacy, where people take pictures of things that make them happy and lastly, pro-social, where people take pictures of other things that make other people happy. Whether a participant was slightly affected by the experiment or largely effected, the overall results indicated that smartphone photography does reduced stress and increases happiness and their overall well-being.

The studies constructs were operationalized in clear various ways. For 4 weeks, each participant had to follow three strict main conditions when taking the photos on the smartphone. Every day, each participant had to take pictures of themselves with a positive facial expression, things that they enjoy and things that would make other people happy. To keep track and calculate the participants moods, the authors developed two Android applications. SurveyApp, one of the applications includes five tasks: a morning survey and three mood surveys during the day and night time. The other application, MettaApp is an extended version of the other application. MettaApp is where you take your pictures and set your specific mood for that session.

The authors measured moods through specific applications. The study would be considered more valid. The apps the authors used allowed the applicants to self-report their moods over a span of 4 weeks. The 4 weeks allowed participants to hiccups (random negative moods) without skewing the data. Therefore, this allowed the researchers to measure exactly what they wanted: an increase in happiness due to smartphone photography. On the other hand, this study did not seem to reliable. In the methods section, the authors explained that each participant has their own “baseline to account for individual differences”. This aspect of the study is unreliable because each participant’s mood baseline is different. Therefore, you cannot calculate a generalized starting and end point for the individuals.

The researchers designed their study in a deductive way. The authors took previous studies testing the same ideas, which they then used as a basis of their study. The researchers also approached the design of their study in both a quantitative and qualitative ways. The participants had to fill out a general survey upon entering the study, as well as explain their mood to the researchers, which accounted for the qualitative aspect. Participants also had to rate their mood on a sliding bar scale, which was the quantitative method of the study.

I personally believe that the researchers achieved their stated aims in the purpose of the overall study. For the research, the authors conducted a thorough and well-organized method. While this study was well-thought out, it was also a difficult topic to measure. People’s moods fluctuate due many different factors as well as the different stages of one’s life which account for difference stressors at that time. The deductive aspect of this study gave them a basis on what to test and how to test it. The quantitative and qualitative aspect of this study demonstrated how certain people prefer to rate things using numbers while others like using words. This gives both types of people the opportunity to express how they really feel. There were a few limitations that I came across when observing the study. One of the limitations was the period of time at which they conducted the study. The researchers had to use a time period where the participants were experiencing the most stress (at the end of the semester). One of the difficulties that I came across was the accuracy of calculating the moods of each individual. The authors explained that each person had a “baseline”, however in their next study they would like to have more of a control group. I personally believe that the greatest strength of this study was when the researchers used more technology based applications to measure the main focus of the experiment. This made it easier on the participants to report their emotions while still living their everyday life.

I think it is important to understand and evaluate the elements of research in order to depict if a study is done accurately. In this study, the most challenging and confusing aspect was the statistics of the experiment. I was found it difficult to understand when the authors explained the methods they were going to use to calculate certain aspects of the experiment.

To improve one’s understanding of scientific studies, I believe that you should start with easier concepts and research topics. Also, when reading a more challenging study, you should google and read about the specific concepts you do not understand. These two steps could overall help you improve your research comprehension and literacy skills.

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Positive affect through smartphone photography. (2021, Oct 15). Retrieved January 31, 2023 , from

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