Well-being can be defined as a state of being healthy, happy, and comfortable. It is a great measure of how content, calm, safe, in-control, grateful, and thankful you feel in life. People say you become what you surround yourself with. So, naturally, it is obvious that while exposing yourself to negative and distressing news can reduce your sense of well-being, seeing and reading encouraging and calming posts online can do quite the opposite, or in other words, improve it.
Dr. Jennifer Golbeck, a computer science professor at the College of Information Studies, decided to make an experiment and analyze how all of this plays out online.
She and her team gathered 1,880 participants in our study. Each of them was instructed to take a survey called PEECE that measured their state of well-being. The survey had 12 statements or in other words “emotional states” that began with “I feel” and continued with “relaxed, valued, safe, at ease, informed, content, thankful, energized, like smiling, etc. The participants’ job was to rate each feeling on a five-point scale, one being “not at all” and five being “extremely”.
After that, the subjects were divided into three groups. The first group had to spend five minutes looking at funny posts on Twitter. The second group had to spend five minutes looking at cute photos of dogs. And finally, the third group was instructed to read Donald Trump’s Twitter feed. None of the groups knew what the other groups did; they were only aware of their own assignment.
As soon as they finished with their task, the subjects were instructed to re-took the PEECE survey so the researchers could see if there are any changes in their well-being.
The first thing that the team noticed was a significant decline in the well-being of those who were told to look at Trump’s tweets. Even though the team had separated the supports from the non-supporters, they noticed a decline in both groups. Their conclusion was that whether someone supports Trump or not, his Twitter is always overflown with angry posts. Those who do not support him, get angry by simply looking at him, let alone reading his posts. And those who support him get angry at the same thing he is angry about. One way or the other, both of the subgroups are bound to experience a significant decline in their well-being.
This only proved that the type of content he shares is more likely to piss someone off than make them happier, calmer, or more grateful.
The second (the people who looked at popular posts and the third group (the people who looked at dogs), on the other hand, had a significant boost in their well-being, with the “dog group” scoring even higher.
This helped them conclude that even though their study wasn’t designed to determine whether dogs are the best thing for people’s well-being, people’s mental health is indeed directly linked to seeing cute things, in their case, dogs. This just goes to show that we all need connection, compassion, and love to be happy.
And is there any other creature on Earth that shows that kind of affection the way dogs do? I don’t think so.
So, there you have it. If you are an animal lover, now you know. You might be immortal. And if you are not, then, here’s an idea. Find something adorable that you enjoy looking at. Create a social media list full of content that interests you and inspires you. Science guarantees you that you will feel ten times more joyful and happier after scrolling for a few minutes.
Source: College of Information Studies