Profile Pictures in the Digital World: Self-Photographs Predict Better Life Satisfaction

Kalai Hung* (Corresponding Author), Naomi Lee, Kaiping Peng, Jie Sui

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


Profiles pictures as online identities represent an extension of the user’s self in the digital world. Changes in self-representation are responsible for reduced well-being in individuals in the offline world. However, whether profile picture selection predicts the well-being of internet users is unknown. To address this question, we tested the relationship between the type of profile picture (e.g., self-photographs or other pictures) used on social media and the life satisfaction of internet users, accounting for gender and personality traits that have been thought to relate to the selection of profile pictures. The results showed that individuals using self-photographs as profiles reported a higher level of life satisfaction compared to individuals using other pictures as profiles. This effect was influenced by gender, openness, and extraversion. Hierarchical regression and moderation analyses revealed that openness and profile type interacted to predict life satisfaction in women, while openness and profile picture independently predicted life satisfaction in men. Furthermore, extraversion directly predicted life satisfaction in both men and women. These results indicate that the consistency between one’s online and offline self-representation may characterize internet users’ well-being, with potential implications for digital wellness.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6667
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding: This research was funded by the Leverhulme Trust (RPG-2019-010).
Data Availability Statement: The data used to support the findings of this study are available from the corresponding author upon request.


  • profile picture
  • online-offline self-consistency
  • personality
  • gender
  • life satisfaction
  • self- representation
  • digital health


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