Study Proves Appearance Counts, Even in Social Media

24 11 2009

With the rise of social media, personal profiles and photos usually give people the first hint of our personalities. And according to a recent study at Sonoma University, appearance plays an important role in communicating our personalities, especially in the all-important First Impression.

“The appearance one portrays in his or her photographs has important implications for their professional and social life,” said Sonoma psychologist Laura Naumann, who carried out the study along with Sam Gosling of The University of Texas.

In the study, participants were asked to view full-body photos of people they never met in controlled poses and in natural poses. They were then asked questions about the people based on their observations and their answers were compared to answers from people who knew the people in the photos.

While some information was accurately gleamed from the controlled poses, the study revealed just how much information is communicated in the natural poses. Participants were able to correctly identify nine out of 10 personality traits from the way people presented themselves in the pictures.

“We have long known that people jump to conclusions about others on the basis of very little information,” says Gosling, “but what’s striking about these findings is how many of the impressions have a kernel of truth to them, even on the basis of something as simple a single photograph.”

Naumann said the finding can help people create the impression they want to make. “If you want potential employers or romantic suitors to see you as a warm and friendly individual, you should post pictures where you smile or are standing in a relaxed pose,” she suggests.