Numbers don't lie
Oversharing on Facebook can cost you your job, especially if you don't have your privacy settings right, but even something as mundane (and public) as your profile photo can hamper your career, according to a new study. The problem arises when young women choose sexy photos to represent themselves on Facebook and other social media. And the problem isn't (necessarily) ogling male coworkers.
"Adolescent girls and young adult women who post sexualized profile photos will likely be judged by their female peers as being less physically and socially attractive and as less competent," report researchers at Oregon State University-Cascades and U.C. Santa Cruz. This is important, the researchers add, because "social media is where the youth are," and young women get mixed messages about portraying themselves as sexy.
The study didn't exactly look at coworkers. The researchers created two Facebook accounts for a fictional woman named Amanda Johnson, the only difference between the accounts being the profile photos — sexy "Amanda" is on the left, non-sexy "Amanda" is on the right (these are the prom photo and senior high school portrait of a real woman who agreed to be used in the study, so we've partially obscured her face):
A group of about 120 female volunteers age 13 to 25 were randomly assigned to evaluate one of the two Amandas on three attributes: physical attractiveness (I think she is pretty), social attractiveness (I think she could be a friend of mine), and task competence (I have confidence in her ability to get a job done). Non-sexy Amanda scored higher in all three categories.
Elizabeth Daniels, the study's lead author, says she expected the lower competence scores, but was surprised that the women rated the sexy Facebook user less attractive. "Because there's so much pressure in the culture for women to be sexy, I actually expected that maybe she would be considered more attractive because she was sexualized," she told The Oregonian. "But that's not what I found."
"This is a clear indictment of sexy social media photos," Daniels added. The study, titled "The Price of Sexy," was published online in the journal Psychology of Popular Media Culture earlier this week. --Peter Weber