US-Study is analyzing Instagram posts in relation to the psychological condition of each user.

Intuitively, people connect colors with emotions. As a result, dark and muted colors are directly associated with sadness. Bright and varied colors on the other hand are associated with happy feelings. Recently, researcher from the universities of Harvard and Vermont published a study that could prove that user profiles in social networks are drawing conclusions to one’s psychological condition based on filters. The study concludes that depressed people are preferring dark colors. That being the case what does it mean for social networks?

In the course of the study, more than 40.000 posts of psychological ill as well as psychologically-healthy people have been tested. Particular emphasis was given to aspects like color, light or the amount of faces within the picture. Using a computer software, these post were categorized in sad and happy areas.

If you think that black and white photography simply appears as elegant and precious, you are completely wrong!

According to the study, people that are frequently using filters like Inkwell (black and white filter) or Crema (takes away the warm tones) are more likely to be “depressed”. Furthermore, self-portraits instead of group pictures and only a few likes per posts are reasons for a negative psychological condition.

Schwarz-Weiß Fotos und Selbstporträts deuten auf eine negative psychische Verfassung. Quelle: Meijer According to the study, black and white pictures as well as self-portraits are a sign for a negative psychological condition. Source: Meijer

On the other hand, psychologically healthy people are more likely to post pictures of landscapes or close-ups. Furthermore, they are primarily using Filters like Valencia, X-Pro II, Hefe, Rise and Amaro.


Filters that are more likely to indicate a „healthy“ psychological condition:

Valencia, X-Pro II, Hefe, Rise, Amaro, Lo-fi, Walden, Kelvin, Unknown, Clarendon, Earlybird, Toaster, 1977, Mayfair, Nashville, Gotham, Brannan, Hudson, Sierra, Poprocket, Maven, Moon.


Filters that are more likely to indicate a „depressed“ psychological condition:

Inkwell, Crema, Willow, Reyes, Sinson, Slumber, Sutro, Ashby, Juro, Perpetua, Dogpatch, Helena, Gingham, Skyline, Aden, Ludwig, Lark, Ginza, Vesper.

An interesting question is how reliable the algorithm is in identifying depressed people. If the tool is actually able to provide realistic details about the psychological condition of social media users, this study could develop into an earlier recognition method of depressions.

Attention: The term „depression“ describes a variety of conditions and therefore, you are always in need of a medical diagnosis to determine whether a person is depressed or not.

Filter wie Valencia sprechen laut Studie für eine gute psychische Verfassung. Quelle: White According to the study, filter like Valencia represent a positive psychological condition. Source: White


Cover Photo: Lifshits