The Big 5 Personality Test

We’ll stop at nothing on our constant quest to find ourselves. We’ll read any article and take any quiz in the hopes of learning about the deeper meaning of who we are. Who doesn’t love taking personality quizzes? Exploring what makes you tick, why you think and act the way you do – it’s pretty compelling stuff. I came across an interesting study on the topic the other day, Analyzing Personality through Social Media Profile Picture Choice. It was surprisingly accurate when I looked at the findings, and compared them to my picture and the pictures of people I know.

The study was based on one of my favorite personality tests, The Big Five Personality Test, which has been used by psychologists for years. The five main factors used to describe human personality are openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness and neuroticism.

Openness looks at how willingly an individual will explore new ideas or experiences and how well they focus on their thoughts and feelings.

Conscientiousness is a person’s awareness, attention to detail and desire to perform to their full potential.

Extraversion refers to how much someone enjoys human interaction, ability to take risks and their level of assertiveness.

Agreeableness is a person’s ability to cooperate with others and how well they consider other’s feelings.

Neuroticism examines someone’s anxiety level, ability to cope with stress, and yet stay calm under pressure.

Using the Big 5 personality traits, researchers analyzed various image features such as facial presentation, emotions, color and aesthetics.

My profile picture resonated most with consciousness. According to the research, “profile images with faces, especially with only one face, are good indicators of higher conscientiousness” and “conscientious people express the most emotions (highest expressiveness, lowest neutral) across all five traits.”

Overall, they concluded each personality trait had a specific kind of profile picture.

Users that are either high in openness or neuroticism post less photos of people and when these are present, they tend not to express positive emotions. The difference between the groups is in the aesthetic quality of the photos, higher for openness and lower for neuroticism. Users high in conscientiousness, agreeableness or extraversion prefer pictures with at least one face and prefer presenting positive emotions through their facial expressions. Conscientious users post more what is expected of a profile picture: pictures of one face that expresses the most positive emotion out of all traits. Extraverts and agreeable people regularly post colorful pictures that convey emotion, although they are not the most aesthetically pleasing, especially for the latter trait.

There’s no denying that many of us post the highlights of our lives on social media and have a certain digital persona, which is not always realistic or indicative of the big picture. For this reason, researchers chose to focus the study solely on profile pictures.

“Social media gives users the opportunity to build an online persona through posting of content such as text, images, links or through interaction with others,” researchers stated. “The way in which users present themselves is a type of behavior usually determined by differences in demographic or psychological traits.”

What does your profile picture say about you? Share your results in the comments!

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Rose Caiola
Inspired. Rewired.

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