Study shows that strangers are better at picking attractive profile pictures

Published: 19 April 2017


Ever been so vain that you’ve snapped 4573 selfies, and then spent hours deciding which ones to upload as your new Facebook profile picture?

Chances are you could cut back on time spent scrolling through images of yourself, all taken at slightly different (but barely noticeable) angles, by asking a stranger to choose one for you.

A new study has revealed strangers are more likely to pick a more flattering photo for you, rather than you would for yourself.

Researchers from the University of Western Australia, the University of NSW and the University of Sydney, found that while we are perfectly capable of picking out a nice photo of ourselves, strangers are much better at it.

"This pattern suggests people may have an inbuilt bias about what they think they look like, which interferes with their ability to select photos that gave the most favourable first impression,” Dr Clare Sutherland said.

As part of the ‘The Choosing Face: The curse of self in profile image selection’ study, more than 600 people were surveyed across two experiments.

News Corp reports that participants were asked to choose an image of themselves and one for a stranger, that they would/or should use as their profile picture on social networking sites.

And the results left researchers baffled, as to why we’re better at choosing an image for a stranger rather than for ourselves.

“We know that people often view themselves too positively; the ‘better-than-average effect’, so perhaps having ‘rose tinted glasses’ interferes with people’s ability to select a good image," Dr Sutherland said.

"Our findings highlight the importance of using naturalistic images, like the kinds we see in everyday life."

Researchers say more studies need to be done to come to a complete conclusion.