Washington | People who take photos of their experiences usually enjoy events more than those who do not click pictures, a new study suggests.
To the best of our knowledge, this research is the first extensive investigation examining how taking photos affects people’s enjoyment of their experiences, said Kristin Diehl from University of Southern California in the US.
We show that, relative to not taking photos, photography can heighten enjoyment of positive experiences by increasing engagement, said Diehl. Diehl along with researchers from Yale University and University of Pennsylvania in the US outlined a series of nine experiments involving over 2,000 participants in the field and the lab designed to examine the effect of taking photographs of an experience on people’s enjoyment of an activity.
In each experiment, individuals were asked to participate in an activity (for example, taking a bus tour or eating in a food court) and were either instructed to take photos during the activity or not. Afterwards, participants completed a survey designed to measure not only their enjoyment but their engagement in the experience.
In almost every case, people who took photographs reported higher levels of enjoyment. While people might think that stopping to take photographs would detract from the whole experience and make it less pleasurable, participants who took photos reported being more engaged in the activity, the study found.
One critical factor that has been shown to affect enjoyment is the extent to which people are engaged with the experience, researchers said. They found that photo-taking naturally draws people more into the experience. In one experiment, individuals were instructed to take a self-guided tour of a museum exhibit while wearing glasses that tracked their eye movements.
Researchers found that those who took photos spent more time examining the artifacts in the exhibit than those who simply observed. There were some conditions, though, where picture-taking did not have a positive effect, such as when the participant was already actively engaged in the experience. For example, in one experiment, individuals were asked either to participate in an arts and crafts project or to observe one.
While taking photos increased the enjoyment of observers, it did not affect enjoyment of those actively taking part in the experience, researchers said. They also found that this effect is not limited to the action of taking pictures.
Participants in one experiment reported higher levels of enjoyment after just taking mental pictures as they were going through the experience. While photo-taking can increase enjoyment in many circumstances, this effect requires active participation, researchers said.
Subscribe to our email newsletter.