You know that obnoxious friend who's constantly posting photos of their vacations, meals, relationships, and every detail of their life on Facebook and Instagram? Well, they're probably having a better time than you, according to a new study by the American Psychological Association.
In nine experiments, the researchers provided over 2,000 people with different experiences, including a bus tour, a meal in a food court, and a virtual safari that included lions feasting on a buffalo. During each one, half of the participants were instructed to take photos and half weren't. Then, they rated how much they enjoyed the experience and how engaged they were in it.
Overall, people who took photos were more engaged with their experiences and enjoyed them more. The authors think taking photos helps people stay in the moment and pay attention to what's happening.
There were a few exceptions to this finding, though. First, when people had to take out bulky cameras, it detracted from the experience. So if you want to capture your summer vacation, it may be best to stick to your iPhone.
Picture-taking also didn't help people enjoy something when it interrupted the activity. For example, taking photos increased participants' engagement and enjoyment when they were observing an arts and crafts class, but it didn't when they were the ones creating the projects.
And when people didn't enjoy what they were doing, snapping photos backfired. Those who had to photograph that poor buffalo getting devoured were less happy with their virtual safaris.
But as long as they're not secretly hating that vacation they're boasting about to their followers, those people crowding up your newsfeed might actually be on to something.
The authors did not immediately return Complex's request for comment.