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Study: Ask a stranger before choosing a social media profile picture

Updated: Apr. 14, 2017 at 10:46 AM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – You've heard the saying, a picture is worth a thousand words. Well when it comes to choosing the perfect one for social media, you may want to ask a stranger.

Researchers in Australia set to find out, what, if any, impact certain social media profile pictures have on those viewing them.

To find out whether certain pictures have a positive or negative effect on first impressions, researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) asked 102 students to select photos the were most and least likely to use as their profile picture on three online sites: social networks, dating websites, and professional networks.

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After choosing their pictures, researchers then had a group of strangers rate each photo, based on how trustworthy and confident the students appeared, and how dominant and attractive they looked.

The group of strangers rated the pictures students were iffy about or had no intention of using as profile pictures, higher, compared to ones the students loved. Many said they'd be more likely to employ, date, befriend, or even vote for the person in the pictures.

So how do you know when a photo is profile worthy?

After reading through countless articles online, five tips for choosing an appropriate profile picture emerged. Experts say, never wear sunglasses, showing your eyes is vital. Shadows from sunglasses can d rop one's likeability, and make them appear less competent.

Also, smile, and make sure to show your teeth. Appropriate clothing can also make or break a first impression, and the angle of the picture is important.

Some dating websites encourage full body photos, while professional and networking sites recommend photos from the waist up, or even just your face.

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