Funded Phd Research

Alixandra Barasch

How Taking Photos Increases Enjoyment of Experiences

Marketing Department; Faculty Adviser: Gal Zauberman

Experiences are vital to the lives and well-being of people; hence, understanding the factors that amplify or dampen enjoyment of experiences is important. One such factor is photo-taking, which has gone unexamined by prior research even as it has become ubiquitous. We identify engagement as a relevant process that influences whether photo-taking will increase or decrease enjoyment. Across 3 field and 6 lab experiments, we find that taking photos enhances enjoyment of positive experiences across a range of contexts and methodologies. This occurs when photo-taking increases engagement with the experience, which is less likely when the experience itself is already highly engaging, or when photo-taking interferes with the experience. As further evidence of an engagement-based process, we show that photo-taking directs greater visual attention to aspects of the experience one may want to photograph. Lastly, we also find that this greater engagement due to photo-taking results in worse evaluations of negative experiences.

How the Intention to Share Can Undermine Enjoyment: Photo-Taking Goals and Evaluation of Experiences

Marketing Department; Faculty Adviser: Gal Zauberman

People often share their experiences with others who were not originally present, which provides them with both personal and interpersonal benefits. However, most prior work on this form of sharing has examined the decision to share one’s experience only after the experience is over. We investigate a distinct, unexplored aspect of the sharing process: when the decision to share is already salient during an experience and hence can impact the experience itself. We examine this research question within the context of photo-taking, an increasingly ubiquitous and integral part of people’s experiences. Across two field and three laboratory studies, we find that relative to taking pictures for oneself (e.g., to preserve one’s memories), taking pictures with the intention to share them with others (e.g., to post on social media) reduces enjoyment of experiences. This effect occurs because taking photos with the intention to share increases self-presentational concern during the experience, which can reduce enjoyment directly, as well as indirectly by lowering engagement with the experience. We identify several factors that moderate the effect of photo-taking goals on enjoyment, such as individual differences in the extent to which individuals care about how others perceive them and the closeness of the intended audience.


Diehl, Kristin, Gal Zauberman and Alixandra Barasch (2016), “How Taking
Photos Increases Enjoyment of Experiences,” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 111(2), pp. 119-140.

Barasch, Alixandra, Gal Zauberman and Kristin Diehl (2017), “How the Intention to Share Can Undermine Enjoyment: Photo-Taking Goals and Evaluation of
Experiences,” Journal of Consumer Research, published online Nov 2017,
forthcoming issue. article/doi/10.1093/jcr/ucx112/4627834

Barasch, Alixandra, Kristin Diehl, Jackie Silverman, and Gal Zauberman (2017), “Photographic Memory: The Effects of Photo-taking on Memory for Auditory and Visual Information,” Psychological Science, 28(8), 1056-1066.

In the Press:

Berger and Barasch compare audience reactions to posed vs. candid photos in online profiles. When observers viewed profiles that displayed unvarnished images — or those that seemed to be unvarnished — they reported feeling more connected to those people and more interested in getting to know them:

“So Long, Selfies: Why Candid Photos Make a Better Impression,” Knowledge at Wharton (September 28, 2017).

“Here’s Why We Feel Compelled to Record Music Concerts (Sorry, Jack White),” NBC News (March 4, 2018).

“Yes, Social Media is Affecting How Much You Enjoy Life,” Afar (March 14, 2018).

“Does Taking Photos for Social Media Enhance or Degrade an Experience?,” Big Think (January 25, 2018).

“Taking Pictures Improves Certain Kinds of Memories and Weakens Others,” Big Think (September 10, 2017).

“Sea Snakes, Photos, Sponges, Plus More News and Science Notes,” The Bulletin (August 29, 2017).

“How to Take a Photo of the Total Solar Eclipse and Still Enjoy it,” Inverse Science (August 21, 2017).

“Taking Photos Won’t Take You Out of the Moment, Study Suggests,” The New York Times (August 18, 2017).

“Instagram Addicts Rejoice! Study Reveals that Taking Photos for Social Media Improves Your Memory – Even if You Never Look at the Snaps Again,” Daily Mail (August 16, 2017).

“How to Stay in the Moment: Take a Picture,” Wired (August 13, 2017).

“How Taking Photos Affects Your Memory of the Moment Later On,” New York Magazine (August 7, 2017).

“Minutiae: the Curious App that Captures Your Unfiltered Life,” Wired (May 26, 2017).

“How Instagram is Changing Business IRL,” Mel Magazine (September 29, 2016).

“Scientists Just Validated Your Instagram Obsession,” Huffington Post (July 6, 2016).

“Taking Photos Can Make a Good Experience Better,” The Boston Globe (July 4, 2016).

“News ‘Flash’: Fans Who Take Pictures at Concerts May Have More Fun,” NBC News (July 2, 2016).

“Why You’ll be Glad You Took that Photo,” The Washington Post (June 16, 2016).

“Instagramming Your Lunch Actually Puts You More ‘In the Moment’,” Fast Company (June 15, 2016).

“How Your iPhone Photos Make You Happier,” Yahoo (June 14, 2016).

“Annoyed by People Who Instagram at Brunch? Well, a New Study Suggests They’re Happier than You,” The Washington Post (June 10, 2016).

“The Joy of Instagram,” The Atlantic (June 10, 2016).

“How Your iPhone Photos Make You Happier,” Time (June 9, 2016).

“Take a Picture, You’ll Enjoy it More,” Science Daily (June 9, 2016).


When Happiness Shared is Happiness Halved: How Taking Photos to Share with Others Affects Experiences and Memories,” Association for Consumer Research, Baltimore (October 2014)

How Photo-taking Goals Affect Enjoyment of Experiences,” Society for Consumer Psychology, Phoenix (February 2015)


Winner of the Society for Consumer Psychology Dissertation Proposal Competition, 2015