One Experiment of How People Judge You on Facebook

By Guest Author Kirsten Bergstrom

In an experiment by Utz, 124 Hyves (a popular Dutch Social Network Site, or SNS, similar to Facebook) users gave their impression about a mock profile of Anouk Jansen using a 5-point scale.  The subjects judged Anouk based on her profile picture (extroverted, lively facial expression vs. introverted, sitting alone on the edge of a river), number of friends (82 vs. 382), and her friend’s profile pictures (extroverted pictures vs. introverted pictures).  The participants judged three factors:

  • Popularity (unpopular/popular, unsocial/social): Anouk was judged to be more popular when she had an extroverted profile than an introverted profile, had 382 friends, and had extroverted pictures of friends.  Self-generated information (profile picture) had the strongest impact.
  • Communal orientation (unfriendly/friendly, dishonest/honest):  The difference between Anouk’s introverted profile picture with introverted friends and Anouk’s extroverted profile with extroverted friends had little significant difference.  However, when the extroverted profile had introverted friends and the introverted profile had extroverted friends, her communal orientation score dropped significantly.
  • Social attractiveness (“I would like to spend time with Anouk”): When Anouk’s friends had introverted profiles pictures, she was perceived as more socially attractive with 382 friends than 82 friends.  When they had extroverted profile pictures, Anouk was slightly, but not significantly, more socially attractive when she had 382 friends than when she had 82 friends.

Utz, S. (2010). Show me your friends and I will tell you what type of person you are: How one’s profile, number of friends, and type of friends influence impression formation on social network sites.  Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 15, 314-335.

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Michael Rabby, PhD, serves as a consultant, author & professor specializing in social media, relationship building, and statistics-based research. Here, I muse about these things, along with the occasional comment about music, sports, and whatever else strikes my fancy. After all, it is still communication.