A new study shows it may be better for you to let others pick your photo for you
Your profile pic isn’t doing you enough favors.
You think you’re putting your best face forward, but prospective matches disagree. “People make suboptimal choices when selecting their own profile pictures,” concludes research of more than 600 people published online Friday in the journal “Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications.”
The researchers asked participants to select both photos of themselves and photos of others to be posted on social media and online dating sites. Surprisingly, “participants select more flattering profile images when selecting pictures for other people compared with when selecting for themselves.”
Each photo was ranked in terms of attractiveness, trustworthiness, dominance, competence, confidence; these factors were chosen because they are associated with how people make first impressions, as well as romantic and professional success.
This issue is important, the researchers note, because “people’s first impressions from profile photos shape important decisions, such as choices of whom to date, befriend, or employ.”
Already, 60% of employers use Facebook to screen candidates, a CareerBuilder.com survey from 2016 shows, and 15% of adults use online dating sites or apps like Match and Tinder, according to the Pew Research Center. The first thing employers and potential paramours see about you: your profile pic.
So what’s the solution? Let someone else choose your profile photo for you. “Should people wish to ‘put their best face forward,’ they should ask someone else to choose it,” the researchers write.
If that’s not an option, other research offers clues on which photos to select. A study from researchers at Wake Forest concluded that “your left side is your best side,” noting that images of the left side of your face “are perceived and rated as more pleasant than pictures of the right side of the face, possibly due to the fact that we present a greater intensity of emotion on the left side of our face.” And an OKCupid analysis of 7,000 photos revealed that smiling — at least if you’re a woman — seems to appeal to people.
It’s also a good idea to use a group photo on social media, as you seem more attractive to others when you’re photographed with other people, a study published in Psychological Science reveals.
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