POSTED BY: | March 12, 2012

Ohio State University News Bureau

In most cases, your profile photo on Facebook tells viewers what they need to know to form an impression of you – no words are necessary, new research suggests.

College students who viewed a Facebook photo of a fellow student having fun with friends rated that person as extraverted – even if his profile said he was “not a big people-person.”

“Photos seem to be the primary way we make impressions of people on social networking sites,” said Brandon Van Der Heide, lead author of the study and assistant professor of communication at Ohio State University.

The exception is when a photo is out of the ordinary or shows someone in a negative light.  In that case, people do use profile text to help interpret what kind of person is shown in the profile.

“People will accept a positive photo of you as showing how you really are.  But if the photo is odd or negative in any way, people want to find out more before forming an impression,” he said

Van Der Heide conducted the study with Jonathan D’Angelo and Erin Schumaker, graduate students in communication at Ohio State.  Their results appear in a recent issue of the Journal of Communication.