Have you ever second-guessed whether you’ve chosen the best photos for your social media and dating profiles? Unless you have way-above-average self-confidence, the answer is probably yes. Well, we have good and bad news: The bad news is, most of us suck at picking out the photo that puts our best face forward. The good news is that enlisting the help of a stranger to do so can fix the problem, according to a new study.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales Sydney in Australia discovered that when it comes to choosing the most attractive version of ourselves, it might be wise to let other people choose for us. In the study, researchers asked 102 students to select two out of 12 photos of their own face that they were most or least likely to use as a profile picture for social networks, dating sites and professional networks like Facebook, Match and LinkedIn.
Researchers then showed these images to strangers and asked them to rate how attractive, trustworthy, dominant, confident or competent the person in the photos appeared. What they found: People selected images of themselves that gave worse first impressions than images selected by strangers. In other words, the random strangers picked better pictures of the students than the students did of themselves.
“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,” says lead author Dr. David White.
So, what gives? It seems we’re all so used to the sight of our own mug that we have trouble seeing how it changes — for better or worse — from one image to the next. “Familiarity appears to make it harder to choose the specific shot that best portrays us,” says White.
White says more research is needed to fully understand this phenomenon, but in the meantime, I dare you to ask the next stranger you see which profile photo you should use for your Bumble account… hey, it might land you your next date!