John Suler's Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche

Student Research in Photographic Psychology

photographic psychology student research

In the Psychology Department at Rider University, I have worked with students on a variety of research projects concerning the integration of psychology and photography, with many of these studies employing my Qualitative Research Methodoloy in Photographic Psychology (QRM-PP). Below are some papers I selected to be published here in Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche. These article are in pdf format.

Psychological reactions to post-processing in photography - Jeremy Hargrave (2013)

ABSTRACT: A photograph can have a profound impact on a wide range of emotions for the person viewing it. Using Suler’s Qualitative Research Methodology for Photographic Psychology – QRM-PP (Suler, 2013), the present study researched the psychological reactions to edited changes within a photo using post-processing techniques. Ten participants volunteered to take part in a photo interview in which they observed a photo along with 20 variations of that photo. Post-processing effects included changes in color, tonal changes, changes in texture, sharpness and blur, distortions, and cropping. The participants’ emotional response, interpretation, and subjective associations to the photos were observed and recorded. Results indicated broad differences in the psychological reactions to these photos based on variations in the perceived meanings and subjective associations to the photos, as well as common trends within many photos for several participants, including emotional reactions to color manipulation.

Using ambiguous images to clarify life situations - Adam Natoli (2012)

ABSTRACT:  The use of ambiguous photographs as tools for enhancing self-awareness is well researched by Joel Walker in his studies using The Walker Visuals, which are a set of four ambiguous, dreamlike images that are currently employed in psychological assessment and psychotherapy. The primary purpose of this study was to further explore his ideas, as well as introduce and test out a new method for the use of ambiguous visual images to assist individuals in clarifying a particular life situation. The Ambiguous-Image Life Insight Clarification Interview (AILICI) is different compared to methods used by Walker with the same images in that specific attention is placed on a single life situation prior to the presentation of the ambiguous images. By interpreting the Walker Visuals after describing a life situation, subjects access associations related to their situation that otherwise did not surface through verbal description.

The psychologically beneficial aspects of photography - Adam Natoli (2011)

ABSTRACT: This paper reviews the literature concerning therapeutic photography and phototherapy, how photographs reflect personality and lifestyle,, and how online photosharing can be therapeutic. In a study involving seven participants, the subjects were instructed to use a 24 exposure film camera to “take photos of anything you find interesting, or that is important to you and your life.” A week later, the subjects were given the Quality of Life Scale and interviewed using standard phototherapy questions in order to assess their association to photos that they remembered (“conscious photos”) as well as those they forgot (“unconscious photos”). It was found that the unconscious photographs typically related to the negative aspects of a person’s life, while the conscious photographs related to either the positive aspects or desires for relaxation and calmness. Positive life experiences as portrayed in conscious photographs reflected the ways in which the individual attempts to cope with the negative life situations indicated in the unconscious photographs.  The conscious photographs also revealed negative areas of life experience that were recently improved or addressed.

Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche