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psychology

Hot Topic Tuesday: A Picture’s Worth A Thousand Words

Written on March 27, 2012 at 5:49 pm , by

What are you thinking when you see profile photos? (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

Admit it: you spend more time on Facebook than you probably should. It’s OK, we all do it. But did you know that every time you take a peek at someone’s page, especially their profile picture, you’re making a snap judgment? At least, that’s what a new study from a team of researchers at Ohio State University says.

The study had 195 college students peering at one of four mock profiles of someone who appeared to be a fellow student. Everyone looked at the photo and “about me” section. After review, participants were asked to rate how extroverted they thought the student was on a scale of 1 (least extroverted) to 7 (most extroverted). The majority of people make the final call based on pictures, not words. If the picture made the person appear outgoing and fun, that’s how they were rated, regardless of the text. Same goes if you switch the scenario.

Of course, there’s an exception to every rule: if the image appeared out of the ordinary or placed someone in a negative light, participants took the time to read the profile and really determine what kind of person the student was. So if you’re looking for someone to really evaluate your profile, try an unexpected image or a more somber-looking one.

In a world where we’re constantly bombarded with information, it makes sense that people are looking for a quick summation of traits wherever they can. But what about not judging a book by its cover? Either way, if you’re looking to impress someone for say, a job, cleaning up your profile and activating the security options might not be a bad idea.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

Now you tell us: Stop and think about your recent profile views. Do you form an opinion based on images alone? Should people bother taking the time to read up about someone?