User Descriptions and Interpretations of Self-Presentation through Facebook Profile Images


This article reports the findings of an open-ended qualitative survey about the choices people make when choosing profile images on Facebook. The results demonstrate that women tend to change their profile image more often and to emphasize friendship in the images they choose to display. Although both men and women are equally likely to display images of family and romantic relationships, the interpretations of such images may vary by gender. In addition, as one of the first Facebook studies to include users over 22 years old, this study provides comparative data demonstrating that older users are less likely to change their profile images frequently and more likely to display images of themselves alone. This study corroborates previous findings about the nature of self-presentation in online networking sites and offers new insights into how such impression management might vary according to age and gender.

Facebook; profile images; self-presentation; identity; digital photography
Author biography

Michele M. Strano

Author photo Michele Strano is an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Bridgewater College, Virginia in the United States. Her research projects center around an interest in how photographic practices are related to memory, identity formation, social norm perpetuation, and social group maintenance. Previous work includes an ethnographic investigation of the social practices constituting wedding photography, with an emphasis on how these practices ritualize the process of both accepting and subverting social norms about gender.

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