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Psychological effect of your desktop wallpaper




One of the things I love about getting a new phone or computer is not just the things I can do with it, but the fact that I can personalise it and make it my own. I like my technology to reflect who I am, what Iím into, my opinions and beliefs. Because I use my laptop so often and carry my phone wherever I go, I like to feel "at home" with them. I wouldnít dream of using the factory settings for the mobile phone ringtone, for example, and the more themes I can access for my computer, the better.


Just like when we move into a new house, one of the first jobs we often do is to redecorate, we like to feel we can put our own stamp on our technology. We all know the difference a fresh coat of paint can make to a tired room.

Wallpaper can have the same effect on your computer. It can make your Acer Aspire 5551 look different from all the others: unmistakably yours. Our choice of wall-covering in a room can make it warm and inviting, relaxing or vibrant and upbeat; itís the same with the wallpaper we select for our computers. As humans, we respond significantly to images we see regularly - we can all picture particular company logos and fonts, for example - and so the choice of the image that greets us every time we fire up our laptop is an important one.


The positive effect of a favourite photograph can be provided by your desktop background. Lauren, a dance-teacher, currently has picture of herself and her fiancť from a holiday as her wallpaper. "It has a beautiful background of the pool and sun and just makes me feel happy every time I see it." This can be a useful tool for cheering yourself up at work, for example, and for reminding you what is important. Having a cheerful picture of your family as your desktop background is a great way of reinforcing your priorities and gaining perspective on a difficult day. Leafing through old photo albums can be a soothing and relaxing activity, so adding a "slideshow" of digital photos to your desktop can provide you with a chance to reminisce and smile.


Film stills, celebrity photo-shoots, even particular brands - all visual images have an impact on our emotions, whether we realise it or not. So pick a picture that brings good feelings to the surface. Russell Crowe in Cinderella Man, for example, is not only in excellent physical shape, but his character in that film is an underdog who comes good against all the odds, and who prioritises his family. I like that in a man and so to choose him as my current wallpaper is a feel-good choice.

Caroline, a drama student, also knows the effect a desktop background can have. She chooses "something calming and usually green and tranquil. As I am dyslexic," she adds, "it helps me cut off from any fears I might have about written work and trawling through lots of glare type web pages." A calming image can encourage you to take a deep breath and de-stress. Natural images of trees, pebbles, water, foliage and shells are popular, as are "escapist" scenes such as secluded beaches, mountain tops and rainbows.


The images you choose can also be inspirational ones which say something about what you stand for or what you believe in. Many people find that religious and political icons or photographs of significant events in history speak to them profoundly. Such images are often accompanied by a quotation from the inspirational figure, or a verse from the Bible. Itís the 21st century equivalent of having the Serenity Prayer or Desiderata on a postcard pinned to your wall, and it can make a blank space meaningful.


A desktop background can also act as a visual reminder. Maybe you have a goal in mind - youíre saving to buy a classic Citroen DS, or you want to smarten up your lounge and get some leather sofas. Make your wallpaper relevant to your hopes and dreams, however random they may be. You could make a collage of your goals and new year's resolutions. Choose a picture of delicious juicy green apples and maybe youíll be encouraged to eat more healthily. If youíre trying to live more mindfully, a Zen garden might be a good visual prompt. Need to increase power and passion in your life? If the theory that we manifest what we most focus upon is true, then make sure your wallpaper doesnít feature wallflowers.



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