Scientists say photos posted on Instagram can help diagnose depr - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Scientists say photos posted on Instagram can help diagnose depression

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KHQ.COM - Do you think you can tell if a friend were depressed based on the photos they post to their Instagram account? Scientists say they can.

Researchers are so sure about this, they've actually created a computer to detect depression in photos uploaded to social media - and they say they new system can correctly pick up on depression clues 70% of the time.

Here's how the study worked:

Scientists from Harvard University and the University of Vermont asked volunteers to share their photos. They were able to gather 43,950 photos provided by 166 people with just under half of those people (71) reporting clinically diagnosed depression in the previous three years. Scientists then analyzed the photos using insights from previous psychological research about people's preferences for brightness, color, and shading and their research revealed that those who are depressed tend to post photos that were bluer, darker and greyer than those posted by people who were not depressed. The computer system they developed was able to pick up on these clues correctly 70% of the time which is actually better than the success rate of general-practice doctors who correctly diagnose depression in-person 42% of the time.

The most popular Instagram filter among those who were depressed was "inkwell" which makes a photo black and white. Those who were not depressed tended to use filters like "Valencia" that make photos more bright and vibrant. 

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