Let a stranger pick your next profile pic, seriously

Your profile picture selection won’t be the most flattering.

Image: vicky leta/mashable

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” 

According to a new study, that’s true—and we’re not very good at recognizing which of our profile pictures others will find beautiful. 

In a small experiment with 102 students, researchers at UNSW Sydney in Australia found that the photos we pick of ourselves for our social media profiles, dating apps and professional networks don’t put us in the best light.

Their findings, published Thursday in the journal Cognitive Research: Principles and Implications, suggest that instead of being your best judge of attractiveness and other personality traits, you’re better off asking the advice of a stranger.

Let strangers pick out your pics.

Let strangers pick out your pics.

The researchers asked the students to choose two out of 12 photos that they were most or least likely to choose for a profile pic for sites like Facebook, Match and LinkedIn. Then they did the same selection process on strangers’ pictures who had already participated in the study. 

When researchers showed the pictures students had chosen to random internet strangers, the strangers found that the photos picked by others (not the student themselves) were more attractive, trustworthy, dominant, confident or competent, depending on which site they were meant for. 

“Our findings suggest that people make poor choices when selecting flattering images of themselves for online profile pictures”

Lead author Dr. David White said in a release about the study, “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.”

So basically, we can’t see ourselves very well, but others can find our beauty. This study needs further research to understand why this happens, but in the meantime, use this to your advantage.

Next time you’re on the bus swiping through potential profile pics, take a risk and ask a stranger for their opinion. It might work out better for you. Or you’ll just have a super weird interaction on the bus. Win-win.

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