A Candid Advantage? The Social Benefits of Candid Photos - By Alixandra Barasch
NYU Stern Professor Alixandra Barasch explains how candid photos are seen as more authentic
People often assume that a curated, polished version of the self will generate the most favorable responses—that by smoothing rough edges and presenting one’s best side, others will like and want to interact with them more. But this assumption is not always correct.
The paper, co-authored by Professor Barasch and Jonah Berger at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, is titled “A Candid Advantage? The Social Benefits of Candid Photos,” and was recently published in Social Psychological & Personality Science.
Across five experiments, the researchers examined whether candid photos increase interest in friendship and dating. Their findings include:
- Observers were more interested in being friends with someone or dating them if that person used a candid (rather than a posed) photo
- Candid photos made people seem more genuine, which increased observers’ desire to get to know them better
- Learning that a person was aware the “candid” photo was being taken detracted from their perceived genuineness; in other words, awareness moderated the positive effect of “candidness”
others will like and want to interact with them more. But this assumption is not always correct,” the authors write.
“In some cases, viewers prefer an unvarnished picture because it seems more genuine,” explains Professor Barasch. “People value authenticity because it feels more accurate.”
The researchers did note, however, that the specific context a photo is used should factor into choosing a candid or posed shot. For instance, additional data collected showed that people are more interested in hiring someone who used a posed rather than candid photo on LinkedIn.
To speak with Professor Barasch, please contact her directly at email@example.com or 212-998-0511; or contact Carolyn Ritter at 212-998-0624 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Kimberly Couzens at 212-998-0923 or email@example.com in NYU Stern’s Office of Public Affairs.