Putting Your Best Face Forward In The Age Of Social Media

The age old expression “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover” we all know, but seem to forget. Everyone knows how important a first impression is, but not many know that there is only a 7 second window to make it. Some can be as brief as 100 milliseconds or less. A new patient-doctor encounter is just one example of generating a first impression, as is a first date, a client, or a new colleague.

But now there’s a new way to judge a person even before you meet them, and it’s all based on your face. And the results may be useful in helping one to decide on a profile picture, whatever the social platform may be.

Let me explain…

Previous studies on the matter of ‘making first impression’ tell us that things such as a smile, an introduction, adjusting your attitude, straightening your posture, making eye contact, leaning in, and the list goes on, is what matters in making a first impression. For example, when UK gum maker Beldent created a commercial for his gum product, he had hoped to give the message that people chewing gum are more fun. What social researchers discovered, was so much more.

The effect of a facial expression on a first impression can be perfectly depicted in his add for the European version of Trident gum, which added validity to the study conducted at The University of York out this week.


Facial features, just like in the video, have been shown to make a lasting impression, according to researchers at the University of York. Putting your best face forward in the age of social media, such as Linked In profile picture, a Facebook profile, Instagram selfies, a dating profile or a professional resume, may be the key to build a strong relationship.

Traditionally, an image or a picture of a person can make a false perception of a person even before they are met face-to-face. Until now, when it comes to making a first impression in photos, it has been found that your facial expression may be what matters most according to a new study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS).

Researchers that conducted the study wanted to see whether we can estimate people’s first impressions of the very varied images we encounter every day, like on the Internet. The impressions we create through images of our faces, such selfies, are becoming more and more important in a world where we increasingly get to know one another online rather than in the flesh.

To conduct their study, researchers took 1,000 random photographs from the internet and studied each person’s physical features. They created a computer system that mimics the human brain, and have identified which facial features (facial angle, age, expression, hairstyle, shape of the person’s jaw, mouth, eyes, cheekbones and eyebrows) might be linked to accurately gauging people’s impression of a given image.

The results suggest first impressions are linked to changeable properties, ie: pose, expression, lighting, and contribute alongside to the face itself. These findings are leading to computer programs that automatically see which photographs would help people give the best first impression they can.

Want to look more trustworthy? More approachable? Youthful, or even attractive? You can, but it will depend on your headshot.

Before you attach that picture to your CV or resume, think twice about choosing images with particular characteristics. There is no second chance with a first impression.



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Dr. Danielle Krol, a native of the Philadelphia area, spent the majority of her early life growing up in New Jersey. With over 15 years’ experience in Dance and Theatrical Arts, Dr. Krol was pursuing a career as an actress until her mother was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. For the 3 years that followed, Dr. Krol placed her life on hold and took the responsibility of Caretaker for her terminally ill mother. Her passion for medicine came about during her mother’s illness, and her determination to become a doctor came about after her passing in 2002.