The majority of Instagram users at one point of their image sharing lives can admit to adding a filter to their photos (those 11% who sneakily add the hashtag #nofilter we’re not judging you). The vintage vibe synonymous now with the rise (and fall?) of the hipster can be linked directly to the photo sharing application. Not only can these images add a retro grain, the envy of classic camera aficionados, but they can radically transform selfies into Photoshop-esque perfected photos.

Why We Filter Our Photos and How It Impacts Engagement, Yahoo Labs and Georgia Tech’s collaborative research white paper, investigates the psychology behind why we filter our photos and the effects these filters have on other’s engagement.

It highlights interesting insights in to what factors make users react differently, and in general, more positively with photos that have had a filter applied – the warmer atmosphere, the spotlight that can be created on a single person in a crowd, or subject. Increasing the saturation and colour contrast also is proved to significantly increase user’s engagement with a photo.

It makes for an extremely interesting read, taking the emphasis off the notion that the trend for filters is slowly waning. Whether that may be true, with the research showing the positive correlation between filters and social engagement, filters look set to stay a predominant feature in our intrinsically driven social media lives.

You can read the full paper in detail here.