I read the article ‘Textual Primacy Online: Impression Formation Based on Textual and Visual Cues in Facebook Profiles’ by Ayellet Pelled, Tanya Zilberstein, Alona Tsirulnikov, Eran Pick, Yael Patkin and Nurit Tal-Or.

I found this article to be particularly interesting, as it looked at how visual and textual cues factor into users impressions of others of social network sites. The social networking site that this research focused on was Facebook and the authors explored the question, ‘Which elements of one’s Facebook profile have a more significant influence on impression formation of extroversion—pictures or texts?’  The authors conducted two online experiments in order to see what made a stronger impression on users, pictures or texts. The findings of the research indicated that textual cues had a greater impact online on social networking sites and that the research’s participants who needed higher levels of engagement on social networking sites put more of an emphasis on textual cues; whilst also noting that the number of likes a post received played a big part in how individuals were perceived online (Pelled,  Zilberstein, Tsirulnikov, Pick, Patkin and Tal-Or, 2017, p.274).

When interacting on Facebook with someone we have both visual and verbal cues and we make judgement calls about people using both with an emphasis on textual cues, according to this study. This study created 12 Facebook profiles to be used in its experiments for participants to respond to. From what I understood the participants could see everything in those profiles. I would be interested to see if another study looked at Facebook profiles that had some information partially private, so the participants did not have a full look at a profile, just access to what aspects of the profile were public (for example profile pictures and posts the user was tagged in). I wonder how this would affect the results.

I found myself thinking about how I look for cues on the Facebook profile of people I am not friends with. When clicking on one of these peoples profiles I am often only able to see a certain amount of information that was set to public (for example cover photos on Facebook are always public) and unless the persons posts were set to public, the majority of my cues would be pictures, perhaps accompanied with some text in the pictures description. I wonder, when this is the case, whether those small textual descriptions I can read next to the pictures have an even bigger impression me, considering I can’t see the text posts on the persons wall.

 

Reference:
Pelled, A., Zilberstein, T., Tsirulnikov, A., Pick, E., Patkin, Y., & Tal-Or, N. (2017). Textual Primacy Online: Impression Formation Based on Textual and Visual Cues in Facebook Profiles. American Behavioral Scientist, 61(7), 672–687. https://doi.org/10.1177/0002764217717563