Hate when your friends make you wait to eat until they've perfectly captured your ice cream cone, even though it's melting down your hand in the summer heat?
New research shows the ritual of taking photos at mealtime is actually good for the person photographing. Hmm, if you can't beat 'em, maybe join 'em?
The study: Roughly 2,000 participants were placed into nine different situations, including visiting a museum, eating at a farmer's market and driving around on a double-decker tour bus. Half of the participants were instructed to take photos and the other half were not given those instructions.
The results: Researchers found consistent, significant evidence that photos heightened the participants' engagement in their experiences no matter which activity they did. This engagement led to greater enjoyment.
It's all about focus, the study revealed.
"Using eyetracking in a natural setting, we find that photo-taking directs attention to visual aspects that are most relevant to the experience (e.g., artifacts in a museum exhibit) rather than increasing attention to every aspect of the experience," study authors wrote.
"Further, we show that it is the mental process people adopt while taking photos, rather than the photo-taking mechanics, that triggers greater engagement and thus increases enjoyment."
In other words, you might not even need to post your brunch photos to Instagram to reap the benefits (#Likes4Likes). Simply curating experiences and deciding how to frame a photo can help you feel more engaged and can help get more enjoyment from the experience.
Researchers did not investigate whether actions like standing on a chair to get the perfect aerial shot increased enjoyment.
The current study adds to previous research that suggests benefits of amateur food photography. One study published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing found that taking a photo of food and delaying consumption can increase how much a consumer savors a given product. Researchers noted this effect could be especially useful for increasing enjoyment of "less pleasurable (i.e. healthy) foods." #KaleSalad FTW.
The takeaway: Whether or not it's socially acceptable to hold your friends hostage at mealtime while you snap a pic, taking food photos can increase engagement and enjoyment, potentially helping you savor the dish even more. Might be time to stop the hating and start 'gramming, yourself.