How to Take Better Selfies: Follow These Research-Based Tips For Maximum Instagram Success

Ever wondered why some selfies are hyper-flattering and others just fall flat? New research sheds light on how to take better selfies by understanding the psychology of judging faces from photos. Pictures can say a thousand words, and we've all learned the hard way that those words sure can vary. With a little added attention, you can improve your social media profiles, attract a better date, and maybe even land a new job.

Psychologists at the University of York recently discovered that you can accurately predict first impressions that people will have of someone based on the conglomeration of characteristics of the judged person's face. As established in previous research, these factors basically boil down to: approachability, dominance, and youthfulness/attractiveness. In other words, people want to know right off the bat whether someone is nice, powerful, and hot.

The many precise measurements that constitute a person's face (e.g. eyebrow width, eye height) combine to give overall impressions of that person's approachability, dominance, and attractiveness. With their mathematical model, the University of York psychologists can also create images of faces (based on these many specific measurements) designed to give a certain impression.

If you want to maximize your looks with the face you've already got, you need to do things that exaggerate the specific features associated with approachability and youthfulness/attractiveness, especially. Too low of lighting and a bottom-up angle can obscure your facial features and make you look uglier and older than you are. Smiling makes you look more submissive, and scowling makes you look more dominant. Larger-looking eyes will make you seem younger, so take some care with that eye makeup. Understand that viewers of your selfie will be making instantaneous judgments – humans have spent many years evolving the capacity to make these judgments intuitively!

A word of caution, though: sexy pics of women make a bad impression on viewers. When female experimental participants were asked to rate pictures of other women, they gave the women lower marks for physical attractiveness, social attractiveness, and competence when those women were shown in sexy clothing and poses. I hope you already knew better than to pose your duckfaced bikini selfies on LinkedIn, but if not, switch it to something more professional already.

And, although it turns out that attractiveness doesn't matter much for date satisfaction, online daters are judging you harshly by your pictures anyways. Follow some simple rules for choosing dating site photos to increase your chances of success. To tell you the truth, my own boyfriend's OkCupid pictures weren't that great and, although I appreciated the reduced competition, it worries me to think that I almost might not have messaged him back. Happy selfie-ing!

Image: Giphy