Researchers: The Right Computer Password Can Offer a Mental Health “Booster”

The characters you type out over and over again into your digital devices may impact your mental health more than you might expect. A new research by Assistant Professor of Psychology Li Gu with collaborators from the University of British Columbia (UBC) has found self-affirming written passwords — such as “MusicCalmsMeDown@123”— can offer a boost to one’s mental health.

The research published in Internet Interventions aimed at exploring solutions for one of the biggest challenges in mental health interventions: fadeouts of the intervention effects. “As soon as people complete a session of counseling or training, they start to forget about what they learn either in the counselor’s office or the self-help resources. Computer passwords offer a timely option to remind people of the therapeutic messages. Because passwords are simple and have no cost, they can be efficient ‘boosters’ supplementing mental health interventions,” said Li.

Li first began the study in 2019 while at UBC and further developed his research after joining NYU Shanghai and starting his Diversity Science Lab here in 2020. He is also a member of the newly established NYU Shanghai Center for Global Health Equity. “I am thrilled for the foundation of this Center and am looking forward to collaborating with the other members in the Center to promote health equity using accessible and affordable digital mental health interventions,” said Li.

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