PhD Research Study2018
SnapAppy logo

What is SnapAppy?

SnapAppy is a positive psychology intervention promoting positive thinking by integrating momentary smartphone photography with traditional intervention methodologies to improve emotional well-being.

What did the study involve?

Over a month-long study, participants were required to take photos and write about positive moments, past events, acts of kindness and gratuitous situations whilst also logging their mood and affect using established psychological measures.

How was the data analysed?

Data was extracted and processed with PHP and Python. LIWC was used to apply sentiment analysis to extract the positivity of the photo descriptions and the photos were fed into IBM Watson to perform object and colour recognition. R and SPSS were also utilised to analyse the data and generate outputs.

What did we conclude?

The results indicated that the number of photos taken, the effort applied to annotating the photos, the number of photos revisited and the photos containing people were positively correlated with an improvement in mood and affect.

The Tech

The front-end is built for Android and iOS using Cordova and the back-end is built on the LAMP stack.

SnapAppy was built as an SPA without a front-end framework due to upskilling time constraints, so I used Handlebars templates to replicate component reuse.

The application also worked offline by storing actions in a queue in local storage and pushing them to the server once the device came back online.


Login screen with the SnapAppy logo, login and sign up buttons.

Participants can log in to the app using either Facebook, Google or an email and password.

Onboarding screen with text: 'Take or choose a photo of a positive moment, choose a category and write a description expressing your positive emotions.'.

During onboarding, participants are instructed to take or choose photos of positive moments.

Onboarding screen with text: 'The categories define five different types of positivity and should help guide ideas for your entries: Positivity, Reminisce, Kindness, Gratitude, Destiny'.

Participants are introduced to the five photo categories.

Onboarding screen with text: 'Write a description about what the positive moment was and how it made you feel'.

Participants are advised that they will need to annotate photos with an emotional description.

Onboarding screen with text: '1. The study will last for 30 days, but you are free to continue using SnapAppy for as long as you like. 2. Add a new entry at least once per day. 3. Record your mood at the end of each day (there will be notification reminders). 4. Complete surveys about your psychological state every 10 days (there will be notification reminders).'

Finally, the participation instructions for the study are listed.

Photo of James standing at a stall with posters, leaflets and a laptop to attract participants.

Promoting SnapAppy at the University of Kent Wellbeing Festival to attract study participants.

Logging Photos

A timeline layout with each entry displayed vertically. Each entry contains the photo, description, date and category.

Entry photos, categories and descriptions can be viewed on the timeline screen.

Buttons are displayed which contain each category and a short description as to what they mean.

When taking a photo for a new entry, it must be assigned to a category corresponding to its type of positive experience.

A text field and instructions on how to describe the photo.

After assigning the photo to a category, one can write a description describing how the event made them feel.

Study Progress & Surveys

A progress bar displaying the number of days of the study the user has completed, and a line chart displaying the the number of entries per day.

This screen shows the participant's progress through the study and the number of entries per day.

A bar chart displaying the number of entries per category, and a line chart displaying mood scores per day.

The progress screen also shows the number of entries per category and the participant's mood reports.

Settings screen with buttons from 8pm to 12am to change the notification time.

Participants could change the time of their mood notification in order to suit their sleep schedule.

A slider with labels 'Bad' and 'Good' for the user to log their mood score.

Mood is reported using a 7-point Likert slider ranging from -3 (bad) to +3 (good).

A survey question relating to affective state with five radio button answers.

The survey screen showing one affective state and the various answers from the PANAS survey.


The research findings from this study are published in Elsevier Pervasive and Mobile Computing Journal 2021.
Click here to read the full paper.

A study poster was presented at the EDA School Research Conference in 2018.
Click here to view the poster.


The logo was designed by James Rowe.