When trying to pick your best online profile picture, it may be best to let a stranger do the choosing, a new study published in the open access journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications suggests.
David White, leading researcher on the study from the University of New South Wales, said:
Our findings suggest that people make poor choices when selecting flattering images of themselves for online profile pictures, which affects other people’s perception of them.
This effect is likely to have a substantial impact on online interactions, the impressions people form and the decisions they base on them, including whether to employ, date, befriend or even vote for someone.
White and his colleagues asked 102 students to pick two out of 12 images of themselves, pictures they would be most and least likely to use as a profile pic on various online networks — social, dating professional networks. The same participants were then asked to select images for a stranger’s profile pics.
The findings appear to contradict previous research which showed that people tend to portray themselves more favorably than others.
Basically, the study shows if you have confidence in your appearance, you might not be able to see the difference between a good photo and a bad one.
“The practical advice is that people should really ask someone else to select their next profile picture,” says White.
So, since strangers are far better at picking out your most flattering images find a total stranger to choose the right profile pic for you.
White concluded: “Future research needs to investigate the mechanisms that underlie the choices people make when selecting profile pictures to find out why people seem to have a limited ability to select the most flattering images of themselves.”