Digital Wellbeing Positive Psychology

“Happy Nudges” – A smiling selfie keeps sadness away (study)

Want to be 22% happier? Here’s how.  Simply take a selfie whilst smiling every day for three weeks.

That’s the finding of a study published in the Journal “Psychology of Well-being” which invited people to either take a daily smiling selfie. Compared to a control group, the happiness of daily smiling selfie-snappers increased significantly. Other effective ‘happy nudges’ involving smartphone camera involved taking daily photos of things that make you happy, and sending a daily photo to friends designed to make them smile. Overall, baseline happiness (recorded on an app) increased 22% from 13.64 to 16.65.

You can read the full study – Promoting Positive Affect through Smartphone Photography – online, and you’ll see that the research was exploratory with only a small number of participants (41). But it builds on previous evidence that smiling, reflecting on happy things (taking photos of things that make you smile), and doing things to make other people happy increases your own happiness.

For digital professionals, this study is super-interesting because it shows how digital technology can be used positively, and be put to the service of human happiness.  Commercially, we know that happy customers buy more, for more and for longer – so designing campaigns, services and products using “happy nudges” like this – makes sense.  And remember, making others happy makes you happier too.

If you’re interested in the idea of “happy nudges” – here’s a recent introductory lecture I gave for MSc Behavioural Economics students at City: University of London, based on our work at Syzygy.

Interface for mood mapper.


Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour, wellbeing and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.

6 Comments Add New Comment

  1. chris says:

    I’m not a fan of selfies either. I loved the world we lived in before we all had mobile phones and could escape whenever we wanted and be gone for as long as we wanted.

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