How an Algorithm Learned to Identify Depressed Individuals by Studying Their Instagram Photos

Excerpt from this article:

One of the curious things about color is that we associate it with emotions. Intuitively, we tend to link darker, grayer colors with negative moods and brighter, lighter colors with positive ones. Indeed, researchers have found that people suffering from depression prefer darker colors.

That raises the fascinating possibility that it might be possible to diagnose depression  en masse by analyzing the photos people post to social-media sites such as Instagram. But how reliable could such an approach ever be?

Today, we get an answer thanks to the work of Andrew Reece at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Chris Danforth at the University of Vermont in Burlington, who have found significant correlations between the colors in photos posted to Instagram and an individual’s mental health. The link is so strong that the pair suggest that it could be used for early detection of mental illness.

 

 

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