Why Are Those Pictures?

Made by Fred Qiao

Created: September 13th, 2015


For this project, I use We-chat profile pictures from 53 friends of mine  to do the analysis. 

Here is the main question of my project: why are people choosing specific pictures to be their profile pictures? To answer this question, I make 6 analysis. 


1. How many pictures are good looking?


Unsurprisingly, all of pictures look very nice.


As we can see ,all the pictures can be considered as "good-looking". Some of them are art pieces from some Japanese artists; some are nice and edited selfies; some are well-taken photos, ect. It easy to see that most people want to give their friends and other picture viewers a good impression.

2. How many pictures are selfies?



The number of selfies is over 40 percent, which is quite noticeable. There are several kinds of selfies as showed before. One kind is just pure selfie, with people's pickles eliminated and faces thinned. People who use this kind of selfies usually intend to present the best of themselves, make other people think they are good-looking. Also, those people are usually very confident because they dare to show themselves even to strangers. Another kind is people with their families or friends. This kind of photos are usually very warm. We can see their love in those pictures. From my point of view, this kind of pictures are usually intended to show people's love to their families or friends. Also, people want to show that they are not lonely. In addition, for those who do not have family and friends around, those profile pictures are also a kind of memorial for their beloved friends and family.

Furthermore, some profile pictures are edited in interesting ways. Just like the girl with cat facial hair below. It's not like the person wants to show that she is beautiful. Still, she wants to say something good about herself through the picture: she is not a boring person. Also, the picture makes him very attractive. Other people will think she is a very interesting person.


3. How many pictures are related to their hobbies?



Quite a few people use their hobbies as their profile pictures. The reason, I guess, might be that they want to make some friends who have similar hobbies. Also, if the kind of hobby is very cool and decent, people usually want to show off to others. Generally, people just want others know more about themselves.

4. How many people use mottos as their profile pictures?



Just a small number of people choose some mottos as their profile pictures because it is actually a little stupid. I can't tell why, but in the social context that I live with, it is not a sign that someone is popular. People who use them usually try to motivate themselves. And also, they want to tell other people what kind of people themselves are.

5. How many profile pictures are edited?



Ok. That's just almost all pictures have been edited. It's easy to see that people want to make their profile pictures looks beautiful (noted that all profile pictures are good-looking). The reason is the same as why people choose good-looking pictures: they want to show the best of themselves, though some of the profile pictures no longer present the true selves of picture owners. People just want to give other people a good impression.

6. How many people's profile pictures are their idols?



About 20 percent profile pictures present people's idols. We can say quite a lot people are using their idols as their profile pictures. It doesn't seem like people can give others a good impressions about themselves by using idol pictures. Then, why do they choose those pictures? From my point of view, this kind of pictures are used to help people find others who share the same idol. The purpose of using idols as profile pictures is kind of like the purpose of using hobby-related pictures. People can easily tell others what celebirties they like and find others who share those similarities.  Those profile pictures can help people make friends with people who have common topics.


I think the biggest purpose that people choose specific pictures as their profile pictures is that they want to leave other people a good impression, no matter if the impression is true about themselves or not. People might want others think they are good-looking; they might want to show that they have very broad interests; they might show their shining personalities, etc. However, besides those points, we can see profile pictures are also largely used to help people make friends. People want to attract more strangers and make friends with people who they like by showing strangers their profile pictures. In addition, some people also use profile pictures to commemorate their families or friendship.