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Clicking pictures helps us enjoy moments better: study

Are you one of those who stops to take pictures in the middle of any activity? Do you always look for opportunities to capture the image that’s in front of you? A latest study published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology has confirmed that people who photograph their experiences tend to enjoy the events more than people who don’t.

The study was aimed at understanding one thing: how does photo-taking affect people’s enjoyment of their experiences? To answer that, authors — Kristin Diehl, PhD, of the University of Southern California; Gal Zauberman, PhD, of Yale University; and Alixandra Barasch, PhD, of the University of Pennsylvania — conducted a series of experiments which included over 2,000 participants.

The participants were not asked to report on their levels of enjoyment and satisfaction that they derived out of their experience. And, in most cases the participants who took photographs reported higher levels of enjoyment.

Also, the study debunked the popular notion that taking photographs detract the quality of experience, making it less pleasurable.

“One critical factor that has been shown to affect enjoyment is the extent to which people are engaged with the experience,” the authors wrote. Photo-taking naturally draws people more into the experience, they found.  So they contend that the increased levels of engagement helps in perceiving the situation in more a positive light.

The study says:

 

While taking photos during an experience adds another activity, unlike traditional dual-task situations that divide attention, capturing experiences with photos actually focuses attention onto the experience, particularly on aspects of the experience worth capturing. As a result, photo-taking leads people to become more engaged with the experience.

It is the mental process people adopt while taking photos, rather than the photo-taking mechanics, that triggers greater engagement and thus increases enjoyment, the study said.

Also read: Understanding the selfie addiction

Photo-taking doesn’t always increase enjoyment levels

Cameras might not add any enjoyment when you are already immersed in an activity and it might, in fact, reduce the levels of engagement. The study says,

In situations where active participation in the task was required, taking photos of the experience did not increase enjoyment, though we did not find any evidence that photo-taking actually decreased enjoyment in this context. Importantly, this study demonstrates a boundary condition of our effect: Photo-taking does not increase enjoyment for experiences that are already actively engaging.

You are also likely to fewer pictures during negative experiences. The study found that people people look less number of photos when a pride of lions were hunting a prey, a sight most found aversive.

It said that taking less photographs is an attempt at trying to reduce engagements levels with the experience. Taking photos of negative experiences marginally reduced enjoyment, it found.

The other important finding of the study was this: it is the mental process people adopt while taking photos, rather than the photo-taking mechanics, that triggers greater engagement and thus increases enjoyment. Also, some participants reported higher levels of enjoyment after just taking “mental” pictures as they were going through the experience.

Reference(s):

“How Taking Photos Increases Enjoyment of Experiences,” by Kristin Diehl, PhD, University of Southern California; Gal Zauberman, PhD, Yale University; and Alixandra Barasch, PhD, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, published online June 6, 2016.

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