Research Essay

Relationships between Profile Pictures and Personality

            With its exploding popularity and easy accessibility, the selfie has dominated American culture since 2012. For most of the 20th century, photography was defined as a captured memory which often took much time to create. Within the digital era, digital cameras came about and made it much easier to view, click, and erase images. Social networks soon evolved eventually turning profile pictures into a popular concept as well as taking a selfie. Because of the era of technology and social media, the modern selfie is the perfect way to express or demonstrate how one is feeling. Pictures posted on social media or dating agencies effect one’s likeability allowing others to see one’s true self through a picture.

In terms of communication and networking, social networking sites have become a popular medium for people of all ages. Along with the provided information the user decides to share, valuable information can be discovered through an analysis of one’s profile picture; users can display different versions of themselves allowing them to express their true or fake selves.

Analyzing people by their profile pictures should consist of the “Big Five personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness, and neuroticism” (Rutkin n.p.). The Big Five factors each consist of multiple narrow personality traits called facets. Evidence suggests that the Big Five, or Five Factor Model, contains “extraversion and openness as the strongest predictors” (Start Managing n.p.); conscientiousness, neuroticism, and agreeableness only correlated with a few social networking sites. Because women on average score higher than men within the categories of neuroticism, agreeableness, and openness, “such differences might imply the possibility of gender moderation of personality effects” (Kaplan n.p.). People who are considered to be dominant within the conscientious trait express emotions of all the different personality types. Openness is often linked with creativity whereas extraversion is complete surrounded by others. Ones that are consumed by neuroticism are hidden behind a blank expression in contrast to highly agreeable people that are bright and lively.

Status updates are one of the most popular features on Facebook; individuals with different dominant traits can be measured through their posting frequencies as well as their profile pictures. Because “social networking sites are unique environments, [they] provide users with a platform that allows them to communicate with others in a mediated space” (Kapidzic n.p.). Since profile pictures play such an important role in one’s first impressions, there is often a lot of thought and consideration when choosing a photo. Often, photos are chosen because they meet the body ideal as well as people’s expectations of beauty. The main goal of one’s profile picture is to show their personality ultimately giving them the ability to be perceived as the person they want to be known as.

Displayed in profile pictures, a person’s stance, outfit, expression, or even background can display information that words cannot. Within three conducted studies, a hypothesis was stated that “women who use red clothing to communicate sexual interest in men in profile pictures on dating websites” (Elliot n.p.) are more interested in casual sex with an unfamiliar partner; this research shows a functional use in color in women’s sexual self-presentation. Women often use a behavioral display of red to signal their sexual interest in men; therefore, a provocative parallel between women and social profiles relates to the mating game. The color red is “designed to communicate a message to male receivers” (Elliot n.p.). The color of one’s clothing can portray a vibe to a worthy competitor; sexual attraction has documented that color has important context-specific effects on humans.

Selfies are a global phenomenon; the enormous amount of self-portrait images taken and shared on social media has revolutionized the way people introduce themselves. Depending on what is displayed in the photo, differences between the Big Five personality traits can be distinguished allowing psychoanalysis of the individual. Even without the knowledge of the distinguishers, one can determine their liking of that particular person; one’s true self can be displayed for all to witness and judge.

 

 

Works Cited

Elliot, Andrew J., and Adam D. Pazda. “Dressed for Sex: Red as a Female Sexual Signal in           Humans.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science,             journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0034607.

Kapidzic, Sanja and Nicole Martins. “Mirroring the Media: The Relationship between Media       Consumption, Media Internalization, and Profile Picture Characteristics on Facebook.”            Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 59, no. 2, June 2015, pp. 278-297.          EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/08838151.2015.1029127.

Kaplan, Simona C., et al. “Social Anxiety and the Big Five Personality Traits: The Interactive        Relationship of Trust and Openness.” Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, vol. 44, no. 3, Apr.          2015, pp. 212-222. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/16506073.2015.1008032.

Rutkin, Aviva. “Social Media Profile Pics Reveal Your Personality.” New Scientist May 2016: 22. ProQuest. Web. 14 Nov. 2017 .

“Start managing your projects on the OSF today.” OSF | The Big Five Personality Traits, Big Two           Metatraits and Social Media: A Meta-Analysis, osf.io/6n4gr/.

 

References

“CONTAGION: How the ‘selfie’ became a social epidemic.” Fortune,         fortune.com/2014/08/22/contagion-selfie-narcissism-to-visual-language/.

Elliot, Andrew J., and Adam D. Pazda. “Dressed for Sex: Red as a Female Sexual Signal in           Humans.” PLOS ONE, Public Library of Science,             journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0034607.

Kapidzic, Sanja and Nicole Martins. “Mirroring the Media: The Relationship between Media       Consumption, Media Internalization, and Profile Picture Characteristics on Facebook.”            Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, vol. 59, no. 2, June 2015, pp. 278-297.          EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/08838151.2015.1029127.

Kaplan, Simona C., et al. “Social Anxiety and the Big Five Personality Traits: The Interactive        Relationship of Trust and Openness.” Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, vol. 44, no. 3, Apr.          2015, pp. 212-222. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/16506073.2015.1008032.

Rutkin, Aviva. “Social Media Profile Pics Reveal Your Personality.” New Scientist May 2016: 22. ProQuest. Web. 14 Nov. 2017 .

“Start managing your projects on the OSF today.” OSF | The Big Five Personality Traits, Big Two           Metatraits and Social Media: A Meta-Analysis, osf.io/6n4gr/.

Stillman, Jessica. “What Your Profile Picture Says About Your Personality, According to Science.”           Inc.com, Inc., www.inc.com/jessica-stillman/what-your-profile-picture-says-about-your-           personality-according-to-science.html.

 

 

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