If you think you can control the way other people see you by posting a flattering headshot of yourself on Facebook, think again. Researchers at the University of Missouri School of Journalism have found that people are more influenced by your friends’ opinions of your looks.
Doctoral student Seoyeon Hong (pictured right), along with associate professor Kevin Wise, asked more than 100 college students to weigh in on different Facebook profile pictures of the same person. They found that photos with “social cues,” which are photos that show the subject’s personality, work better than static headshots. Positive comments from friends also made the photos more appealing to the students than those with negative remarks.
While it’s hard to believe that someone would trust a hateful comment over their own eyes, it’s refreshing to learn that physical beauty isn’t everything. Showing that you have interests, friends, and a unique personality can make you seem more attractive to others.
To help your profile stand out, Hong advised the following: “If you want to be perceived positively by people who view your profile page, including friends and potential employers, it is important to include profile pictures with positive social cues. No matter what the profile owner does to tailor their Facebook page, comments left on their page from other users should be monitored as well. Positive comments are very helpful, but negative remarks can be very damaging, even if they are silly or sarcastic. To maximize the effects of positive self-presentation on Facebook, I would recommend using profile pictures with extensive social cues to show who and what you are in a positive way while also keeping track of what others say about you.”