Science Says Your Profile Picture Can Determine What Your Personality Is Like

By looking at someone’s profile picture, you can now determine them to be one of the ‘Big Five’ personality traits: extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience.

In a paper called “Analyzing Personality Through social Media Profile Picture Choice” done by a team of researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, 66,000 Twitter users were analysed. Out of these, 434 tweeters were given a personality test to determine where they scored on the ‘Big Five’.

The researchers looked into the colours, composition, demographics, facial presentation, expression and also how many people were included in their profile picture.

Open to Experiences

If you’re open to experiences, then you will most likely pose with an object like a guitar or a snowboard. The study says, “users high in openness are significantly correlated to the majority of features indicative of better aesthetic quality of their photos. In general, appealing images tend to have increased contrast, sharpness, saturation and less blur, which is the case for people high in openness. However, their photos are anti-correlated with color emotions and are less colorful… Finally, the dynamic lines which should reflect emotion are significantly anti-correlated, again confirming that photos of users high in openness are low in emotion, albeit of artistic and aesthetic quality. For facial presentation, our results indicate these users display reading glasses, but not sunglasses and when a face is present, this is larger.”


This is the personality trait that is associated with “orderliness, planned behavior and self-discipline.” Generally, the profile pictures usually include one face and are more colourful and bright. “Image composition shows a strong correlation only with not respecting the rule of thirds. These users show correlations for facial presentation with not wearing any type of glasses and a smaller face ratio.” Also, facial expressions are indicative of this personality trait. “The facial emotions of smiling, positive mood and valence (mostly influenced by joy) are all highly positively correlated, while negative mood, especially anger and sadness, are anti-correlated. We observe negative correlations with negative mood, disgust and fear and strong positive correlations with positive mood, joy and smiling. In general, conscientious people express the most emotions (highest expressiveness, lowest neutral) across all five traits. This does not align with what is generally known about conscientious people, but is explainable by taking in account that in a profile picture, a person is expected to smile and appear happy.”


Those who are extroverted have the most colourful images out of all the other traits and they also prefer images with more people. They will also appear younger in their profile pictures or they will be photographed with young people. They have a small face ratio and generally won’t wear glasses in their pictures.


This depicts those who like social harmony and cooperation. They prefer to have faces in the image and use bright, blurry colourful pictures that are low in sharpness. The images are poor quality and have a strong correlation with smiling, joy and positive emotions.


“Neuroticism is associated with the experience of negative emotions and emotional instability. It is usually anti-correlated with agreeableness and extraversion. Notably, photos of neurotic people are perhaps unsurprisingly anticorrelated with colorfulness… overall, neurotic people display simple, uncolorful images with negative color emotions.” Neurotic people also tend not to show their faces and if it is present, they will be displaying reading glasses and their face will be significantly larger. It’s interesting to note that the “presence of reading glasses have been associated with perceived introversion and a decrease in attractiveness.” In terms of emotions, they will present a rather neutral expression.