Originally published by Refinery29.com
By Justin Sedor
Ever since uploading our first Facebook pic back in the heady early days of social media, we’ve all developed unhealthy obsessions with the way we look online; which is to say, if you haven’t untagged a particularly unflattering duck-faced party snap you were clearly born in a simpler time. While paying such close attention to your visual identity may seem vain, it turns out that your precious pic actually is kind of a big deal. A new study published in the journal Psychological Science suggests that when viewing photos, people have drastically different reactions to slight changes in the facial expressions shown.
Researchers from Princeton and Columbia created an online survey containing a series of straight-on headshots of 20 individuals making a number of expressions. The 800 participants were instructed to record their instinctual reactions to each photo, rating the people depicted on characteristics like intelligence, attractiveness, cunning, meanness, and extroversion.
They found that the participants developed completely different opinions of each person depending upon precisely which photo they were shown. In fact, the reactions varied as much between photos of the same individual as they did among photos of entirely different people.