A new study finds that the picture-based social media app Instagram may help determine whether or not a user is depressed, USA Today reports.
Professors from Harvard University and the University of Vermont teamed up to conduct this study. They analyzed data from 166 Instagram users and 43,000 photos by using a machine that looked at the color composition in the pictures and any faces in them as well.
Color – or lack thereof – was a strong indication of whether or not a user was suffering from depression.
According to study findings, depressed users were more likely to post pictures that were “bluer, darker or grayer.”
Additionally, these users “had an outsized preference for filtering out all color from posted photos and showed an aversion to artificially lightening photos, compared to non-depressed controls.”
The number of faces posted in photos also proved to be an indicator of depression. Researchers found that depressed users posted more photos with faces, but that amount of faces were lower. Meaning, when a non-depressed person posted a photo with faces, the photo had more faces in it than a depressed person’s photo.
The study determined that this might indicate fewer relationships and social interactions.
“These findings support the notion that major changes in individual psychology are transmitted in social media use, and can be identified via computational methods,” according to a study excerpt.