How Profile Photos Say More About You Than You’d Like


Though we often worry more about our physical appearance than our social media avatars, those profile images are often seen much more frequently than our actual faces. I think this might be why we’re getting more ArtCorgi clients who are interested in commissioning art that can be used as social media avatars.

Have you taken time to think about what your profile photos might reveal about you?

One quick way to evaluate what your profile photo says about you involves lining it up with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This hierarchy is a psychological theory that ranks our psychological needs from most basic to most developed. Until our most basic needs are met, we find it difficult to focus on those above them.

Let’s take a look at the needs of this hierarchy and consider common corresponding profile photos.

  • Physiological needs (food, water, sex, air, sleep): Profile photos with hot girls/guys, and profile photos with food or of food.
  • Safety needs (employment, housing, family, physical safety): Profile photos depicting one’s strong body or self-defense prowess, home / apartment, weapons, and wealth.
  • Love/Belonging needs (family, friends, and sexual intimacy): Profile photos featuring oneself with one’s husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, kids, pets, etc.
  • Esteem needs (respect, achievement, confidence, and a good reputation): Profile photos showing oneself speaking publicly, doing something impressive, traveling, etc.
  • Self-Actualization needs (creativity, morality, problem solving, lack of prejudice, acceptance of facts): Straight on head shots.

Do you see any other common types of profile photos associated with these needs? Do you have any thoughts on the character-revealing aspects of profile photos and avatars? Talk with us about it on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.

You can read more of what I have to say on the subject on the Huffington Post.