Do Our Cell Phone Photographs Reveal Our Personalities?

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michaela Kirby (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Rose Mary Webb

Abstract: Many researchers have explored what photography, autophotography, and photo essays can reveal about the characteristics of individuals. Some of this work focuses on the indications about the individual apparent in photos themselves (Ziller & Vern, 1988), themes present in photo essays of college students (Dollinger, 2017), and yet other work that has connected photographic content to psychological constructs of the photographers (McCain et al., 2016; Qui et al., 2015; Reece & Danforth, 2017; Sorokowska et al., 2016). The current study followed an approach informed by Gosling et al.’s (2002) behavioral residue hypothesis that originally looked at living and working spaces, then explored the effects of personality on one’s behavior in online platforms (Gosling et al., 2011; Kosinski et al., 2013). We proposed an extension of these areas of research by examining whether or not subjects of photos taken by participants with their cell phones reveal characteristics of their self-reported personality (big five, intellect, and narcissism). We proposed several hypotheses between the subjects of participants’ photographs and the big five factors, intellect, narcissism. Conscientiousness and intellect were examined only in exploratory analyses. In this study, we found extraversion, agreeableness, and openness to experience have the most prevalently detectable relationships with the subjects of photographs. While neuroticism and narcissism were correlated to the frequency of photo sharing and editing behaviors, they were not related to photo subjects in the ways we anticipated. Findings may inform future attempts to measure personality using behaviorally-based assessments, rather than self- or other-reported instruments.

Additional Information

Honors Project
Kirby, M. (2018). "Do Our Cell Phone Photographs Reveal Our Personalities?" Unpublished Honors Thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2018
personality, photographs, cell phones, personality assessment, behavioral measures

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