Selfies, what they say about us and how much they can help your health

Finding your own dimension thanks to the observation of others. Who bothered to calculate how many selfies circulate every day on the various platforms he went so far as to say, some time ago, that around 9,000 are taken every second. For some it is almost a necessity, to share their being with others, to the point of taking on not exactly positive connotations in terms of psychological well-being. Thus, if a great painter could take months if not years for a self-portrait, and if for a classic photo it still took time for posing and development, today, over twenty years after the first shot with this technique, it really only takes a moment to grasp an expression. And then share it.

But what's behind a selfie on the psychological front? A research published in Frontiers in Communication, conducted by experts from the University of Bamberg coordinated by Tobias Schneider and Claus-Christian Carbon, now seeks to answer this question.

Not all selfies are the same

What do we think or propose when we take a selfie? Do we want to offer our own expression or maybe we just aim to let others know where we are and what we are doing? The study tries to offer an answer that goes beyond the simple immediate association that those who look at someone else's shot can make, to try to define what sensations does an image of a face evoke?.

First of all, the German experts downloaded a thousand selfies from a database (Selfiecity), which were then offered on a gray background and in standard dimensions to over 130 people who took the emotional “revision” of the images. Each participant was offered 15 selfies extracted by an algorithm, to provide variety. Finally, those who took part in the study were able to “witness” what they perceived of the shot in terms of spontaneous reactions.
As many as 26 categories were prepared to evaluate the participants' responses, to the point of creating groupings of sensations which then became real “semantic profiles”.

And they talk about us

The analysis of the various groups of responses clearly showed how laesthetic appearance of the image and style which emerges is only one of the possible evaluation motives, even if it is obviously quantitatively broader. But soon after, the key word that experts identified was imagination. And not just in terms of thinking about the location and environment of the shot. Because with a selfie, at least this is what emerges from the study, you can also perceive a whiff of the personality of the person who presents themselves to view.

Not only that: in these clusters of perceptions linked to the sight of the shot, there was also no lack of potential psychological introspections on the part of those who looked at the identity of the subject and the motivations that animate it. In this sense too the first impression in short, the sight of a stranger could be a way to explore their psychological traits, even just on the basis of their perceived mood or clothing worn.

In this sense, experts have defined this cluster as interested in the “theory of mind” almost as if to mean how much and how visual language can be a key to communication, sophisticated but not too much, to show something that comes from within us. Without speaking of course. Which means that selfies can become a very effective tool, if used correctly.

With a selfie we will measure the pressure

A study by experts from the University of Toronto appeared in the journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Imaging evaluated the use of the smartphone to monitor blood pressure values. The “selfie” of pressure it is done using a technique based on the possibility of recording the circulation through the skin with a video, thanks to a specific computer program.

The research evaluated over 1,300 people who “loaded” the program that allows “Transdermal Optical Imaging” onto their smartphones. Then the subjects were assessed on their blood pressure both with a video of approximately two minutes recorded with the smartphone and with the classic measurement through the cuff placed above the elbow.
Result: On average the smartphone-based technology has proven an accuracy of around 95 percent for systolic pressure even rising to around 95 percent for the minimum, obviously compared to the classic doctor's measurement. Variables to consider: the color of the skin, because if it is very light you risk the error.

But be careful: the study was conducted in fixed light conditions. This is why you still need to measure your blood pressure at home and also check it with your doctor. Without exaggerating with technology.

An image app will help prevent skin cancer

Some time ago, in the magazine Jama Dermatologya research of great importance has appeared, from the perspective of prevention of skin lesions and raising young people's awareness of possible sunburn, due to lack of protection. The study tells of an app – Sunface – dedicated specifically to teenagers who “fiddle” with their smartphones.
The survey was conducted on over 1,500 students in Brazil. With the App the kids were able, as if for fun, to take a selfie and see thanks to the program a sort of “photoaging” induced by solar rays. Thanks to this tool, particularly among young people, there has been a clear increase in the use of sun protection. The psychological strategy, therefore, rather than on messages of potential future danger, it was based on images. And it really seems to work.

An artist who didn't like “selfies”

“There is no certain self-portrait of Pietro Caliari, known as Veronese”. This is said by Giovanni Carlo Federico Villa, scholar of Venetian Renaissance painting and museologist, director of Palazzo Madama – Civic Museum of Ancient Art of Turin, underlining how not all painters wanted to leave traces of their image, even if in a painting it is assumed that Veronese himself could also be present, who together with Titian and Tintoretto composed the triad capable of dominating European painting of the sixteenth century and becoming a reference model for modernity in painting, the example from which the impressionist season begins.

Villa is the author of the volume “Veronese, a riot of colours” which becomes part of the prestigious art series of the Menarini group. An artist who, as Villa underlines, “born, raised and trained in a city (precisely Verona) that rests on the hills and overlooks the plain, receives moods and messages of art from the Lombard and Emilian lands, cultivates classicism and experiments with 'invention”. “With Veronese the journey that Menarini began in 1956 continues, when the first of his art volumes went to press – explain Lucia and Alberto Giovanni Aleotti, shareholders and members of the Menarini Board – The search for beauty and the diffusion of culture they are the foundations of civilization and collective growth and we are convinced that art and science are an inseparable partnership for the progress and future of the young generations”.

From selfie to PC, what changes?

Visiting a museum, as we know, can represent a source of psychological regeneration, the result of viewing works of art. But something similar could also happen when we look a picture on a screen, although obviously the environmental impact and concentration may be different. This is according to research from some time ago by experts from the University of Vienna, the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen and the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, published in Computers in Human Behaviorit seems so.

The study looked at 140 people, who have “visited” a Monet exhibition on the computer. Using a tailor-made questionnaire, they were asked to report if and how they enjoyed this virtual walk through the canvases. Result: evaluating the reported perception of pleasure, it starts precisely that even virtually art helps psychophysical well-being. Consider that significant improvements in mood and anxiety were detected after just a few minutes of viewing the works.

Warning: the reaction is not the same for everyone, because there are subjects more sensitive to the image of art. But nothing can be done about individual predisposition!