What's in a photo? Can you judge a book by its cover...

As someone happily involved in ‘social media' - I've had to get together a ‘photo' that I was happy to share with the masses.  My Twitter profile, my ezine profile, my Digg profile, my UKBF profile, Facebook, Linked In etc etc etc... The photo I originally posted across these sites - was one taken by the camera on my laptop.  It was small b/w and to be honest I didn't think too much about it.

It was only when I received a comment from someone asking why I looked so miserable as it was putting them off ‘following me' - that I looked at the photo with fresh eyes.

The comment coincided with an article I was reading in New Scientist ‘ How your looks betray your personality'.

The idea that a person's personality can be glimpsed in their face is not a new suggestion - it dates back hundreds (if not thousands) of years.  (The Chinese Ancient Art of Face Reading - to name but one!)

First impressions do count.  Malcolm Gladwell, in his brilliant, brilliant book ‘Blink' (a book which sets out to scientifically prove that first impressions do count) - cites a scenario where a Senator was elected purely on the basis of his ‘square jaw and stature' (yet no leadership competence to back it up) - but his height and looks alone got him into the position.

Apparently within a tenth of a second of seeing a face (that ‘blink' moment) we have already passed judgement and made our minds up about that person.  And once that perception is in place, it's a difficult one to budge.

Research has shown that dominant looking men rise in ranks more so than their ‘baby faced' colleagues.

And those that are more ‘attractive' are perceived as more socially outgoing, more fun to be with, more successful, powerful, healthy and intelligent!

So is there any substance to our ‘snap decisions' about people?  Malcolm Gladwell and those featured in ‘Blink' would say yes.  And the New Scientist feature suggests that there is ‘tantalising evidence' that our faces do indeed portray traits of our personality.  Yet also includes the views of those psychologists that put forward the view that we can ‘engineer' what our face portrays.

So as you spread your ‘photo' (or personality) across the social media landscape then perhaps consider your photo more carefully.  I've now got one that's definitely a little more ‘me'.  Something I hadn't even thought about before... but will do from now on!

To read the New Scientist feature in full http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20126957.300-how-your-looks-betray-your-personality.html?full=true

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Michelle Carvill is owner and Marketing Director at Carvill Creative - a graphic design and marketing services agency based in Maidenhead, Berkshire.  The agency covers all aspects of graphic design and marketing - covering social media marketing and website planning and website design.