Do Instagram profiles accurately portray personality?

Harris, Elspeth and Bardey, Aurore (2019) Do Instagram profiles accurately portray personality? Frontiers in Psychology, 10 (871). pp. 1-13. ISSN 1664-1078


Instagram users are consistently exposed to the presentation of idealized selves. Although studies have examined online self-presentation in general, little attention has been paid to self-presentation in a visual online setting, such as Instagram. The present investigation examined the extent to which Instagram account holders engage in idealized online self-presentation through a mixed-methods approach. Quantitative results (Study 1) showed a difference between how the observers perceived the Instagram account holders’ personality and the Instagram account holders’ personality self-reports. Qualitative findings (Study 2) revealed four major themes: (1) Selfies as a personality predictor; (2) Faces as a personality predictor; (3) Layout as personality predictor, (4) Misuse of social networks and its consequence for communication. Our results also indicated that the halo effect is integral to the online self-presentational process, suggesting that an aesthetically pleasing Instagram account or account holder will be better received and thought as having particularly positive personality traits.

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