We all spend more and more of our time building relationships online, whether that is professional connections on LinkedIn or slightly-less-professional meet ups on Tinder, you’ve got to be looking your best.
But a new study has found that we are not the best candidates for picking our own profile pictures, and we should get someone else to do it for us.
You may well think that the gym picture or a selfie with a tiger on your gap year makes you look well travelled and toned, but the rest of us aren’t so keen.
The study from the University of New South Wales found that we select photographs of ourselves that are less flattering than a stranger would choose on our behalf.
The study suggests that this is because people have an inbuilt bias about what they think they look like to other people, and that this bias interferes with their ability to select photos that give the most favourable first impression.
Dr David White, lead author, explains: “We make inferences about an individual’s character and personality within a split second of seeing a photograph of their face.”
The study of over 600 people found for the first time that asking someone on the bus to pick a picture for you is more likely to pay dividends than sitting at home scrolling through your archives for hours alone.
White says: “This surprising result has clear practical implications. If you want to put your best face forward, get someone else to choose your picture.”
It showed that people were able to select images of themselves that accentuated the desired characteristic for a site, for example attractiveness on a dating site or professionalism for a work site, but still gave a less favourable first impression than those chosen by strangers.
“One explanation could be that we perceive ourselves more positively than others do, in general. This may interfere with our ability to discriminate when trying to select the specific photo that gives the most positive impression,” said White.