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What Your Profile Picture Says About You


By Holly O'Neill
31st Mar 2017

Female friends photographing themselves on smartphone

What Your Profile Picture Says About You

Your profile picture is your point of entry to your friends and followers in the world of social media.


How often do you change it? Once a year? A few times a year? Every month?

You might be surprised to hear that if you change your profiler only once a year or less, it means you’re more likely to be an extrovert. Participants who scored high as extroverts changed their profile pictures less often that introverts, according to a study from the University of Warwick’s Cyber Security Centre.

Researchers had expected the opposite. Are extroverts too busy having fun to change their profile pictures all the time?

What about on Twitter? Do you have a profile picture of yourself or an avatar?

Again, in a surprising result, researchers found that introverts are more likely to use a picture of themselves, as opposed to an avatar as their Twitter profile picture than extroverts. Is this because introverts are using Twitter as a career step and to network where extroverts are having the craic on Twitter? Again, this was the exact opposite result researchers expected to find.

READ MORE: 4 Tips For The Perfect Corporate Profile Picture

Another study, this time from a team of researchers at the University of Pennsylvania analysed the profile pictures of 66k Twitter users using character assessment software. The results, (which you can read in this paper called Analyzing Personality through Social Media Profile Picture Choice) showed that’respondents could be sorted into five personality categories: neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, extroversion and openness to experience.

Neurotics were most likely to have an image of something other than themselves as their profile picture – think of those with their dog or car as their profiler. Would you call them neurotic? Neurotics who did have a picture of their own face as their profiler were found likely to look bland and neutral in the picture.

Agreeable participants are most likely to have colourful pictures that would be poor quality (the focus isn’t on the camera but on the fun) and will show them laughing, smiling or with others.

Conscientious participants – who enjoy “orderliness, planned behaviour and self-discipline” were likely to have perfectly framed photographs or, interestingly, appeared older in their profile pictures, linked to possibly wearing smart clothing or glasses in their picture.

Extroverts were found to be smiling, posing with young people and took the worst quality pictures. The study reads, “extroverts’?images do not have any correlation with the colour attributes that make a photo aesthetically pleasing – contrast, saturation, lack of blur.”

Take a look at your profile picture – which category do you fit into?

Via’renowned psychologist Ben Ambridge. Find out more at benambridge.com