A picture is worth a thousand words, so find out what your online dating and social media profiles really say to viewers, according to science

By YourTango
Corbis Images

When you're setting up an online dating profile, one part is more important than any other: your profile picture. As nice as it would be if we lived in a society that thought the "About Me" section was more important than the evidence of physical attraction, we don't (at least when it comes to first impressions). And so, if you're trying to make a good impression on all of the online suitors out there, you have to pick the right profile picture.

Ideally, your profile picture shouldn't only show off how beautiful you are (look at you!)-it should also show off a little bit of your personality, while drawing people in. This is a daunting and intimidating task. Luckily, it's also one that researchers have shown a lot of interest in. With the rise of online dating and social media profiles, scientists and researchers have been doing studies and surveys to find out just what your profile picture is saying to those that are looking.

Want to come off as an extrovert? There's a specific thing you should do. Do you want any possible first dates to know that you're open to new experiences? You can, by tweaking your photo just a little bit. Here's what your dating profile picture says about you, using 10 examples from scientific studies.

1. If you're with friends, it means…

Studies show that if you use a profile picture with a group of friends, others may think you're more extroverted. They also may think you're more carefree, fun-loving, and you want to give off an image of being popular.

That's all great, but remember: a lot of research done on online dating has found that people don't like when you use a group photo. It's harder to find you!

2. If you have big eyes, it means…

Good news, girls with large eyes: research has found that people will judge a profile picture showing off your big peepers are more attractive and more youthful. According to everything we know about attraction, this seems pretty accurate.

3. If you have a dark picture, it means…

Surveys found that if you post a picture that is dark, people are less likely to think of you as friendly and approachable, and probably not as likeable. It makes sense-if given two options, one bright picture, and one dark, the bright is just more visually pleasing.

4. If you have brown hair, it means…

Recent research also found a few other physically appealing elements: if you're smiling, have brown hair, have an oval face, and/or you're wearing a sweater, people will think of you as more friendly.

I guess this makes sense: all of those things are not very intimidating, making a person seem more approachable.

5. If you're showing off, it means…

If you post a profile picture that is showing something off-like you having fun with a group of friends, you on stage doing something awesome, you being the center of attention in some way, or you doing something impressive (like running a marathon)- beware. This doesn't mean what you think it means.

Research has found that it makes people think you need more self-esteem because you're looking for compliments.

6. If you're a female, it means…

Apparently, it doesn't really matter what pose you do, what you're wearing, or what facial expression you're making: research has found that just being a female can automatically make people think you're more open and conscientious.

7. If you look neat and stylish, it means…

If you want to come off as an extrovert, a study found that your profile picture should be a little something like this: smiling, standing in an energetic way (as opposed to a tense pose), looking healthy, and wearing something that makes you look neat and stylish. That all definitely makes sense.

8. If you have a neutral expression, it means…

The most recent research on profile pictures found something very specific: if you have a profile picture where you're making a neutral expression, have short hair, black hair, and you're wearing a hat and/or sunglasses, people won't see you as very friendly. They'll see you as more standoffish and less approachable.

9. A big smile means…

One study found that when your profile picture involves a big, authentic smile, people seem to think you're more approachable. That shouldn't surprise anybody, and it also shouldn't surprise anybody that all studies done about profile pictures found similar results. I don't think it needs to be said, but seriously: skip the duck face.

10. Showing off a particular sense of style means…

Another study found that if you show off a particular sense of style rather than a "healthy, neat appearance," people are going to see you as more open to new experiences.

By Jessica Booth for YourTango

This article originally appeared on YourTango.


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