Your Personality Profile

This column originally appeared in The Observer magazine/Guardian online


They say picture is worth a thousand words, but what do your Facebook and Twitter profile pictures say about your personality? To find out, simply answer the two questions below:


  1. How often do you change your profile picture on Facebook? (a) Once a year or less, (b) Several times a year, (c) At least once a month?
  2. Is your Twitter profile image (a) a photograph of yourself or (b) an avatar?


If you answered (a) to Question 1 then, surprisingly, you are – on average – more likely to be an extraverted, outgoing type. If you answered (c), you are more likely an introvert, with (b)s in the middle. A new study of 350 participants led by Professor Monica Whitty from the University of Warwick’s Cyber Security Centre found that participants scoring high on a standard questionnaire measure of extraversion changed their profile picture less often than more introverted types: exactly the opposite of what the researchers expected. Why? We can only speculate: Perhaps extraverts are out partying while the introverts are tinkering with their profiles?


If you answered (b) to the second question, then, again surprisingly, you are – on average – more likely to be an extravert; If you answered (a), an introvert. Again confounding their expectations, Whitty’s team found that introverts are more likely to use a photo of themselves as their Twitter profile pic than are extraverts. Again, we can only speculate as to the reasons, but perhaps introverts are serious types who use Twitter for business or academic networking (where showing your face is important), while extraverts are more likely to use Twitter for fun, and so choose avatars representing their hobbies and interests.

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