5 Snap Judgments People Make, Based Solely On Your Profile Pic

Sad but true.

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It doesn't take long for people to form an impression of you.

One glance at a social media profile picture and they will jump to conclusions about who you are, including how sexually active you are or if you're someone they could share secrets with.

We often just put a profile picture up without any thought about how it will be interpreted. You think that selfie of you in the bathroom is kind of hot, but to others, it may appear in poor taste or skanky.


Here are the snap judgments people make based on your profile pictures.

1. If you have an extremely hot profile picture, you're too sexy to be likable or competent.

You may get a lot of friend requests from random men, but most women will probably ignore you. When a woman is overtly sexual in pictures, other women have a tendency to think that they're helpless and incompetent. 

In a study conducted by Oregon State University, researchers found that young women who posted sexy or revealing photos were looked at by their peers as less physically and socially competent to perform tasks. 

Lead researcher Elizabeth Daniels created two fake Facebook profiles for a fictitious young woman, Amanda Johnson.


The body of both profiles had similarities, and the only difference was the profile pictures: one featured a sexy photo and the other profile had a very casual-looking picture. 

The participants of the study were two groups of women: one group of teen girls and the other. young adult women.

They were asked to rate the fictitious woman's attractiveness on if they thought they could be friends with her, and if they had confidence that she could be counted to get the job done. 

The results showed that non-sexy Amanda scored higher in all three areas, and a huge amount of participants felt that ultra-sexy Amanda couldn't be depended on to get the job done.


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2. If you aren't smiling at all or you're smiling too big, you won't make a good co-worker.

You won't get hired anywhere if you look too happy or not happy at all. If you've got a big smile on your face, potential employers will think you're too approachable; if you're not smiling at all, you appear to be too serious and uptight for anyone to want to work with you. The ideal profile photos should look relaxed with a small smile indicating that you have a positive attitude. 

study from New York University showed participants images of faces and then asked them who they'd want to advise them on financial matters, and who they thought were weightlifting champions. Most of the participants chose those with slightly happy faces to work with their money and the ones with very serious faces as weightlifters. So unless your dream job includes pumping iron, stick to looking kind of happy.

RELATED: Strike A Pose: In Defense Of Sex Selfies


3. If you take a lot of self-involved selfies, you're neurotic and self-involved. 

Selfies indicate a lot about your personality: if you're self-centered, lazy, sloppy, indulgent, obnoxious, and even neurotic. 

study published in Computers in Human Behavior analyzed 123 selfie-taking participants and found that people who scored higher levels of agreeableness were more likely to give off a positive vibe from their selfies, as well as hold the camera lower. 

People who were conscientious, meanwhile, were more likely to be discreet about where they were, indicating that they were concerned about privacy. The study also found that people who took duckface selfies a majority of the time were more likely to be associated with neuroticism and emotional instability.

4. If your photo is a travel photo with you as the focus, you're from America.

You may post a picture of yourself in France, but people can still tell that you're not French. 


Researchers Chih-Mao Huang and Denise Park, of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign and The National Taiwan University in Taipei, compared profiles of 200 Taiwanese and American students. To mix things up, some of the students in Taiwan were actually American citizens and vice versa. 

The researchers found that it didn't matter where the participant was in the photo, as they tended to reveal the association between cultural background and style of picture. Americans were more like to have a close-up picture, with mainly their face showing, while those of a Taiwanese background generally had a zoomed-out photo where the background could be clearly seen.

5. If you have a slightly — only slightly! — happy facial expression, you're more trustworthy and friendly.

study published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin showed how facial expressions can affect how trustworthy, friendly, or warm people find you to be based on your photo.


People make assumptions about you and your characteristics based on your profile picture. You don't want your picture to give off false information or too many details about you and your life. Remember to look nice but not too sexy, happy but not overly so, and be careful with the overall presentation of your photo, as you never know who will be looking at it and judging you.

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Christine Schoenwald is a writer and performer. She's had articles in The Los Angeles Times, Salon, and Woman's Day. Visit her website.