Strangers can help you choose better profile pictures

If you are in dilemma about which photo to set as your profile picture on social media, let a stranger choose it for you. It will convey better first impressions, a new study has found.

Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney, Australia, found that images selected by strangers conveyed more favourable first impressions than images people select for themselves.

This is in contrast to previous researches that showed that people tend to portray themselves more favourably than others.

“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,” said David White, lead author of the study.

The study involved 102 students who were asked to select two out of 12 photos of their own face that they would like to set as profile picture in three online network contexts — social networks, dating sites and professional networks.

The participants were then asked to do the same for 12 images of a randomly selected stranger.

“People tend to select images that highlight positive personality traits in line with the context of the website that the image was for,” the findings published the journal Cognitive Research revealed.

“If you want to put your best face forward, it makes sense to ask someone else to choose your picture,” White noted.