Social media profile pictures can reveal clues about personality, according to new research.
Thousands of Twitter user’s pictures were included in the study, along with an analysis of their personality.
Here is how to spot each of the five aspects of personality:
More conscientious people used pictures that were more natural, colourful and bright.
They expressed the most emotions of all the different personality types.
This probably reflects the fact that conscientious people like to do what is expected of them.
2. Openness to experience
People high in openness to experience often had the best pictures: these tended to be sharper, at higher contrast.
Their photos tended to be more artistic or unusual and their faces were often larger in the frame.
Extraverts used more colourful images and were more likely to show a group of people rather than just themselves.
Unsurprisingly, they were usually beaming at the camera.
People higher in neuroticism tended to use simpler photos with less colour.
They were more likely to show a blank expression or even to be hiding their face.
Highly agreeable people post relatively poor pictures of themselves…
…but they are probably smiling and the pictures are bright and lively.
The study’s authors sum up their findings:
“Users that are either high in openness or neuroticism post less photos of people and when these are present, they tend not to express positive emotions.
The difference between the groups is in the aesthetic quality of the photos, higher for openness and lower for neuroticism.
Users high in conscientiousness, agreeableness or extraversion prefer pictures with at least one face and prefer presenting positive emotions through their facial expressions.
Conscientious users post more what is expected of a profile picture: pictures of one face that expresses the most positive emotion out of all traits.
Extraverts and agreeable people regularly post colorful pictures that convey emotion, although they are not the most aesthetically pleasing, especially for the latter trait.”
The study was published in the journal AAAI DIGITAL LIBRARY (Liu et al., 2016).
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Image credit: Liu et al., 2016