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The role of photos? Thursday September 8, 2016

Instagram can be a good indicator of a person's mental health.

At least that's what two researchers, Harvard University's Andrew Reece and the University of Vermont's Chris Danforth, have written in a recent report. The study was based on 166 volunteers who were recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk, where you can make money by completing "Human Intelligence Tasks," and it looked at their entire Instagram histories, which came out to about 43,950 photos.

Participants' levels of depression were determined using a standardized clinical depression survey. They were then asked about their social media habits and history of depression diagnosis. The researchers then analyzed their Instagram photos by looking at colors, brightness, and faces.

Those who were depressed tended to post photos with increased hue, decreased brightness, and decreased color saturation. Overall, their photos were "bluer, grayer, and darker." They also tended to post more frequently and use more Instagram filters, the most popular one for depressed participants being Inkwell, which turns a photo black and white. The most popular filter for volunteers who weren't depressed was Valencia.

What do you think? Do you see any role for Photos in Moodscope? Record your picture alongside your score and comment?


The Moodscope team.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment below.

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Duma Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 5:32am

Cliche alert - a thousand words.

But isn't there a danger that people will get lazy?

Or, go all Facebook, and get competative?

Put me down as a (very) qualified 'yes'.

Cheers, Duma.

Kathryn Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 6:26am

I have 2 step sons, 2 beautiful daughters and 2 of the most amazing Grandsons, I was diagnosed with clinical depression in November last year and I am still struggling day by day now. I recently have changed all the photos in my house to black and white.

Duma Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 8:26am

Damn! I hope you are feeling more colourful again soon, Kathryn. Yours, Duma.

the room above the garage Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 9:07am

Hello Kathryn, if you can still use the words, beautiful and amazing then you can still feel :-) I love photographs both colour and black and white, but only certain photos can cope with being black and white. I'm fascinated by the changing of your photographs. Do you have access to a counsellor? (It took me a while to find one that was great for me.) If so, then this would be a great starting point to explore. A good counsellor will help you find what pile of rubbish is lurking in a corner of your mind and help you recycle it until you can do this on your own. I have to be honest and say I paid privately as I found the nhs offering too limited to make a difference. My other thought is Headspace. It's been talked about often on here. Search for Take Ten on Headspace and just can be pivotal in shifting the mind. Keep talking to us. Love ratg x.

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 9:11am

Lovely gentle words RATG. Kathryn - sometimes it's money well spent going to see a counsellor privately - and quicker. Hopefully you'll be able to have your beautiful grandsons in glorious technicolour once more. Bear hugs xx

the room above the garage Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 9:24am

Bear's words have just made me think...perhaps your favourite photograph of your grandsons, in colour, in a place you often see (kettle?) would be a visual reminder of what helps lift you? I was terrified of giving birth to twins, so I kept my favourite photo of my first child where I could see it. It was a reminder of where I was headed with these two new babies (even if the thought of getting them into the world horrified me!). Photographs can be healing.

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 10:06am

RATG! Now I see you in my mind with twins as + kettle = fandabedozee idea! xxx

Cathy Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 8:08am

I don't want to see lots of photos thanks. Despite the research, disagree with Moodscope using them. I have been using MS for 5 yrs now and find the daily post helps me to stop and matter how I am feeling. The range and variety of posts is so helpful. Thank you.
A photo will not have the same effect. I have plenty of images I can use if I need to. Please resist MS becoming just another 'instant'messaging site.

Duma Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 8:37am

I answered an unusual bird call, on my morning constitutional.

In this manner, I gathered eight pidgeons.

And then, a beautiful white dove!

They sat on the guttering, looking down at the strange, bipedal creature speaking 'The Eyebrow Game', with a local cat's accent.

Got a picture of them, no filters.

That, I would post, wondering if the magician was missing his bird.

But, on reflection, Cathy has convinced me.

So, a 'no pictures, please' vote from me. (If I am allowed to change my mind, that is.

Cheerfully yours, Duma.

Hopeful One Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 8:41am

Hi Adrian- an interesting blog drawing attention to an interesting study. Unfortunately one feels the numbers are too small to move it from the realm of an interesting finding to a fact. As we all know we use colours to express ourselves and equally react to colours . The dreary greyness of a dull rainy or not so rainy day makes us feel a little down as opposed to the vibrant colours of a sunny cloudless day. I have to say I would not be very keen to include photos on Moodscope as it will remove the anonymity which allows Moodscopers to comment freely on sensitive topics that affect them.

As it happens it IS a dull grey drizzly day today where I am . But I know that I can change with the simple manoeuvre of having a laugh .

A wife was complaining that her husband spending all his free time in a bar, so one night he took her along with him. "What'll you have?" he asked. "Oh, I don't know. The same as you I suppose," she replied. So, the husband ordered a couple of Jack Daniel's and threw his down in one shot. His wife watched him, then took a sip from her glass and immediately spat it out. "Yuck, that's TERRIBLE!" she spluttered. "I don't know how you can drink this stuff!" "Well, there you go," cried the husband. "And you think I'm out enjoying myself every night!"

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 8:59am

Tee hee HO..great joke! I agree with you about anonymity...many peeps wouldn't like to know that someone who maybe lives down the road, can see what is really happening....esp if they don't get on!! Bear x

the room above the garage Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 8:55am

Ah, photos, my lifeblood since I was a small child! I think social media offers great support and connection in terms of depression (for those who say they don't like it...we're here, this is it!) and it has been key in my recovery. Sometimes a funny photograph from my day has connected me to a friend abroad for a minute or two and it has been enough to give me a warmth and a strength to get on. I tend to only post photographs that make me feel good or laugh, and not filtered, reflective ones as I don't want anyone to feel brought down or burdened. I might post a photograph to cheer myself or even hide behind.

Even though I am a photograph lover, I really quite like Moodscope being word based. When people are overwhelmed with their mood, words can be uncluttered and bring a gentleness often lacking in everyday life. Pure and simple black on white, the focus is crystal clear. That said, if a picture is relative to the blog then I'm all for it! I'd love to have shared my best friend, half a tree, a few weeks back as I find him so inspiring.

I can't share a photo at the moment but i would share him if I could. Love today's blog, thank you Adrian! Love ratg x.

Sophie Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 9:39am

'When people are overwhelmed with their mood, words can be uncluttered and bring a gentleness often lacking in everyday life.' - that is exactly how i feel! I often listen to Classic fm as i find it relaxing but ive even turned that off today, too many 'things' to take notice of and further stimulate my already overwhelmed mind.

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 9:07am

Great blog Adrian, thankees!

Although I wouldn't like to post a pic of me, per se, I quite like to see what picture is on Moodnudges each time Jon Cousins posts a nudge: they are just pictures relative to the subject that day, but they can get you more interested in what's being written maybe a relative pic could be added, but it's time consuming!

I like the anonymity of Moodscope because none of us is out to hurt anyone here - so I feel everyone can say how things really are, offer advice and not be judged.

...and also, it's fun to have an image of whoever is responding.....I have a picture in my head of HO, RATG...Lillypet, Leah and Mrs TG.....all good I have to say!
Picture me.....I am a Bearofliddlebrain xxxx

the room above the garage Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 9:27am

Brilliant, I so want to see how you have pictured us!! I picture you as an elegant, soft, warm mama bear. Lovely to see you x.

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 10:07am

Aw if only! I'd love to be elegant...but I think I am a warm (ve ve hot at the moment!) mama bear :) nice to 'see' you too xx

Sophie Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 9:36am

i wouldn't like to see lots of pictures, they are too distracting for me right now and one of the reasons ive come off facebook is i found myself comparing my life/thoughts/feelings to other peoples' records and finding or creating links even when there weren't any.

i like the written blog, and having to (if i want to) write notes on my daily score, it forces me to take time to think and recognise how im feeling rather than the instant fleeting connection i might feel with a picture, and then the moment is gone, masked by an image i shouldnt have used. Like when you try to remember a dream but in thinking back to it all you do is push it further away. For me, i think it is important that I recognise my feelings and moods and give them the time and attention they deserve so I can get them back under control

(lowest score today! yay..)

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 10:09am

Oh Soph....lowest score today? That means the only way is up and look! You've already been busy and taken control by contributing here...up, up, up you go...! Big Bear hugs x

Sophie Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 11:12am

thank you :) Highest score yesterday, weird isn't it.. You are right, the only way is up :)

The Gardener Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 10:02am

Kathryn, that's some reaction! Huge response already to this blog, struck loads of chords, obviously. The marriage of our second daughter (fifth child) was, for us, awful. She was not speaking to us - but, as nearly all the guests were family friends we bit our lips and went. An ordeal. The photos come up on our randomisation system - I look rather grim, but very elegant. I was tempted to wipe the whole lot - but, its history, contains so many photos of friends which only exist at that wedding. I could not bear being on Facebook, and hate being photographed. But I thought about how I would look if someone had wandered round 'snapping' in the last 24 hours. Restaurant last night, got Mr G back in wheel-chair, hot and sticky night. Got him to bed, and settled (!!) to Moodscope and a few games of Solitaire. Every five minutes yells from upstairs not to forget water - he had a full glass and a tap in next room. He is at stage where if I am not actually in the room he needs reassurance every five minutes. A photo would have shown a grim-faced woman, trying to keep her temper, and not say 'What is it NOW'. Respite this morning - another snapshot - standing on pavement, in laughing conversation with my lovely, tiny neighbour - older than me, I think. She nursed her husband for 4 years after his open heart surgery. He was a road worker, she's never had money, and lives in two rented rooms with no garden - her fresh air is in the street. So we were a good subject for 'talking heads'. Then, going round doing the chores (Mr G at respite, hence the conversation in peace) I would have produced a profoundly thoughtful face, as I looked and thought carefully of ANY means to improve our daily life. It all comes down to two words - tolerance and acceptance. Sophie's score is low - mine has shot up, still only in 50's, but because I can make plans and know I can carry them out. HO, nice little 'tonic' as usual.

Bearofliddlebrain Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 10:13am

Hi TG...I now picture you and your tiny neighbour having a lovely chat on the pavement..arms gesturing, laughing and smiling, wearing beautiful hats and do you know, it's so good to see you happy this morning! Long may it continue...hugs, Bear x

The Gardener Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 10:07am

The idea of photos on Moodscope has been mooted before, I am dead against it - thought anonymity was name of game?

Andrew Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 12:02pm

Hi all - I love photos (taking them, appreciating them, having them around my house) and I find they can trigger all kinds of memories and associated thoughts, feelings and moods...which can be happy and catastrophically sad (sometimes both at the same time). But photos on here? I think not. This is a place for words, words with which we can paint our own pictures and use our own palette of colours, textures and shades...both as writers and readers.

Ruth Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 1:40pm

Toughie, as the nature of the replies suggest. I volunteered with Samaritans for 10+ years. When we started using email support it was a revelation. There was truly nothing for caller ot volunteer to make judgments on. Old/young, snobby/common, etc. One of the most striking contacts I had was a 16 year old lad from New York who had a terrible drug problem. There I sat middle aged, plump, white woman.....would he have still opened up to me if my photo were there? Many of us make snap judgements based on appearance. For that reason I would be most reluctant to have photos anywhere on Moodscope.

The Gardener Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 6:36pm

Ruth, I agree, having done Samaritans for 5 years. We lived in the 'gin and jag' belt, so we all talked 'proper'. And, at that time, your problem 'client' would not have been around, but boy, did we have a lot of depression to contend with. A long-term 'client' knew all our duty times, and would phone at the beginning, with the intention of shocking. His opener was whether we had long nails, moving on to the colour of our underwear. If you knew him, and could get past that, he had an encyclopaedic knowledge of music, and could be diverted.He did make a suicide attempt once - the flying squad were sent out, most interesting, and sad. He was about 5ft 4, an had awful incurable acne - no hope of a relationship. I don't know if he survived - I left the Sams. But I think if we had known what each other looked like (did, of course, if you be-friended) I do not think people would have 'opened up' as they did to an impersonal voice. I agree with Andrew, the huge importance of personal photos. When I told the first geriatric doctor what we had set up - huge computer screen with a thousand photos of our family and business coming up at random he thought it was brilliant. Mr B could not bother with them, so sad, because he COULD see him, and the could alleviated his situation and jog memories. I often sit and knit and watch them go buy - friends love them - you can go from my m-in-law in Andorra, sailor hat and all, in 1902 - to Mr G on an ancient tractor cutting corn with a binder in the late 1940's, to marvellous temples in Cambodia to orchids in Singapore. When we had photos printed, and the bill shocked me, I said 'I'll warm my hands at those pictures when I can no longer travel', and I do!

Mary Wednesday Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 9:21pm

No! No! NOOOOOOOOOOOO! No photos. Just the words please. just the words. But - interesting blog there. When I visit my GP with depression she says she can immediately tell the moment I walk in her room just from the way I dress. I dress in darker neutrals when depressed apparently - and cannot bear to wear all my lovely bright colours I live in most of the time.

Tutti Frutti Thu, Sep 8th 2016 @ 10:58pm

Hi Adrian
It's interesting research and I've had a similar experience to Mary. A psychiatrist has correctly told me (more than once) when I'm getting better from depression just before I start to feel any better because she could see a change in my face. The voluntary facility to upload a photo of yourself (or whatever you chose to have a photo of) alongside your score and comment might be revealing (although I would only support it if like the comments it was kept entirely private to the moodscope member themselves, ie not seen by buddies or anyone who accesses the graph via a link you've given to them). I wouldn't support photos replacing comments though and I'm not even sure I'd manage to use it myself - technologically too challenging.

I am totally against the idea of uploading photos to be seen by others on the blog though. It's good to be assured of whatever degree of anonymity we want and I agree with the comments made by lots of others about the blog being best without the kind of preconceptions you might get from seeing people's photos.

I am not very savvy with technology and I don't really go in for social media. I was anxious enough when I first commented on the moodscope blog as it was. If I'd thought I had to upload a photo of myself I may well never have commented at all.

Thanks for bringing the research to our attention and for consulting on ideas for the site and thanks to you and the rest of the team for all your work.
TF x

Caroline Ashcroft Moodscope Fri, Sep 9th 2016 @ 12:10am

Interesting comments, thank you everyone and thanks TF for your nice comment about the team. I agree with most of you that personal photographs aren't right for this blog - I know that for many the ability to comment and make friends whilst remaining 'anonymous' helps enormously and it seems to work so why would we change it!? There may be space for the introduction of photographs that people just like maybe, or something that may enhance a blog perhaps. We'll have a think. Once again, thanks for the comments. The Moodscope team.

Nicco Sun, Oct 2nd 2016 @ 6:19pm

Sorry, I'm very behind with replying, but just thought I'd add my few words. I find looking at photos very hard, especially ones of my daughter when she was a baby as I was very ill with post natal depression for several years. I also find looking at photos that were taken at times when I was very low but trying desperately to hide it, very hard in that they trigger difficult emotions. I do love looking at photographs of wildlife and nature though - I find they lift me. Thank you for your blog.

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