According to a new study reveals that images on social media can hint signs of depression
Every hour, every day, hundreds of thousands of photos are being uploaded on social media platforms. From culinary dishes – #foodporn – to cute animals. But a new research says that users can also hint their depression via photos on social media.
The research was published in the EPJ Data Science and was carried by Chris Danforth from the University of Vermont and Andrew Reece from Harvard University. According to the research when a use feels a bit sad – or even depressed – their photos have more dark colors and less number of faces.
Also the research revealed that computers with machine learning can find out if a person’s Instagram photos contain clues of depression. The rate of detection can climb up to 70%.
The team recruited 166 participants from the Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and they were asked to share their mental health history and their Instagram feed. The team collected 43,950 photos and psychology studies on brightness, color and shading were used to analyze the photos.
In addition the study was made in a such way that almost 50% of the participants were reported to be clinically depressed in the last couple of years.
Danforth and Reese wrote in a blog post:
“Pixel analysis of the photos in our dataset revealed that depressed individuals in our sample had the tendency to post photos that were, on average, bluer, darker, and grayer than those posted by healthy individuals.”
Also the research showed that Instagram filters can show what the users feel. For example filters that add color and warmth were chosen by the healthy users. On the other hand black and white photos appeared more often among people with depression.
As for photos with faces the study indicates that people with depression upload images that include faces but they have fewer faces that the ones that healthy people uploaded on Instagram.
Danforth and Reece also mentioned about the study:
“Fewer faces may be an oblique indicator that depressed users interact in smaller settings”.
They also noted that people with depression take many self-portraits but the term “sad-selfie” remains untested. “This study is not yet a diagnostic test, not by a long shot, but it is a proof of concept of a new way to help people,” says Danforth.