What do my profile photo testing results mean?

Our testing scores are given as a number between 1 and 10.

Photofeeler Scores

Your score takes into account the voting style of each person who gave you feedback (e.g. if they typically vote higher or lower for that trait and by how much).

Your scores are standardized so that you can easily compare your results to the general population.

That is, a score of 5 is neither good nor bad, just average.

If you score 7.2 - 8.8 you'd be considered in the top 20%.  8.8-10 top 10%.  However, if you score a five that is a considered an average score. 

What makes a "good" score

A score of 5 is neither good nor bad, just average, as compared to photos of people your same gender and age.

Below that is below average, above that is above average.

Keep in mind that you could get an Unattractive score of 1 for one photo and an Attractive score of 9 for another. Our testing cannot score you as a person. (Image + State tests photos, not people.)

What is a confidence interval mean?

Confidence Intervals

A confidence interval is a mathematical term. It means the range in which our testing is pretty certain your "true" score lies.

(That is, the score your photo would end up with if you had thousands of votes. We use this formula so we can get a pretty accurate idea with 40 votes).

The more votes you add to your test, the smaller these ranges get. Note that photo tests with very split opinions will have wider confidence intervals and require more votes to obtain the same certainty.

We include 1 test of 40 votes for each of our clients for free.  You can always order more tests with higher number of votes if you want to increase your accuracy on your photos.  Each test of 40 votes costs $25.  We feel 40 votes is enough for most people to discover their best profile photo.

What's the science behind your testing?

We use trait-based testing rather than asking voters to choose their favorite photo. You maybe asking yourself "Why don't you just compare two different photos (pick A or B)?

There's a lot of reasons why we uses trait-based testing rather than asking voters to choose their favorite photo.

  1. Testing two photos against each other doesn't consider the possibility that neither photo is any good.
  2. Testing photos one-at-a-time means you can find the top few photos in a large set without having to check numerous combinations and solve a logic puzzle.
  3. Any photo can be compared to any other from the past or in the future, to other users' photos, and to an absolute scale.
  4. Showing multiple photos at once introduces bias (gives the voter more info than they would actually have when viewing each photo individually).
  5. By testing for traits, you get multidimensional results, so you can make contextual decisions. For instance, a photo that scores high in Likability but low in Competence might do well with voters but poorly with recruiters. Similarly, a photo might look Attractive but not Trustworthy: making it harder to get an interview.
  6. This system also makes it possible to algorithmically characterize voting styles and account for them, and to detect and eliminate random voting, both of which are critically important to giving statistically accurate results.

All that said, this system is much more complex to build and run. (A "pick A or B" system can, for instance, collect 3 clicks and declare Photo B the winner, even in cases where those 3 clicks were from people who always click on Photo B.)

The Image + State team has always believed in doing photo testing the right way — not the easy way.

Why test photos with strangers instead of asking people I know and trust?

Wouldn't someone need to know me to accurately gauge my pictures and give good feedback?

Actually, no. It's the opposite. People who know you are too biased to offer useful feedback.

All our profile photo tests are viewed by strangers. So to get them right, you need to know what they say about you out of context. 

The only context they have is your job title + your headshot and then they are asked to vote on how "likeable", "competent", and "influential" you appear without any other context, so that it mimics as closely as what a stranger would react to your profile photo. 

Sure — without prior knowledge about you — someone might get a totally wrong impression. But that is the purpose of of the testing: when your picture isn't coming across right to strangers, the testing lets you know that so you can avoid using it online.

On a related note, if you could give testers voters lots of context (e.g. "This picture is supposed to be silly"), they would become biased and cease to be helpful.

Why do different photos of the same person get different scores?

If you showed up to a job interview in a ratty old tank top, you would make a different impression than if you showed up in a suit.

The same is true with photos. If you take a photo in good light, from a flattering angle, in attractive clothes, you'll come across differently than if you took a scowling mirror selfie in your windowless basement.

It's not that voters are putting too much stock in the characteristics of the photo, it's that they literally can't imagine you looking any other way. If you look unattractive to them, they can't help but imagine you must be an unattractive person. Fortunately, we know judgments like these are often wrong and readily change based on presentation and photo-taking skill.

Are the testing scores true about the person?

No. Impressions are different from reality. Image + State's testing only measures impressions. That's why you can get different scores based on how you choose to present yourself.

Will photos I upload here show up in Google search?

No. Your photos can only be seen by other logged-in users while you're running a test.

Will my photos ever be used or displayed without my consent?

No. We will never publicly use your photos without your explicit permission. 

Image + State does conduct the profile photo research internally.

This can mean a variety of things: having internal employees or contractors tag your photos for your gender, publicly sharing numbers or statistics of which your data may be a part, things of that nature. Never anything personal.

Is the photo testing accurate?

We believe so, or, at least, as accurate as one can get. 

Our testing system also ensures that no one can vote on the same test twice (even if it's paused and restarted a year later), multiple tests running from the same account are adequately spaced out from each other, and more — all in order to fiercely protect the accuracy of results.

The only limits on our testing system accuracy are the limits of people themselves, who often disagree with each other. For that, there is a Quality indicator and confidence intervals to tell you whether your results are statistically significant.

However, if by accurate you mean, "Is our testing right about how smart or attractive I am as a person?" then no. If you're curious to learn why, the following questions and answers will explain better.

Can your testing system be used to test my face (not the photo)? / Are people voting on me or just the picture?

It's not really possible to rate a photo without believing that you're rating the person in it. That's just how the mind works.

But ultimately voters can only rate the impression of you that they get from the picture.

It's not that voters are analyzing the photo, looking for reasons to say someone looks smart or untrustworthy. Rather, the photo unconsciously influences the voter to see the pictured individual in a certain light.

At Image + State when we talk about the difference between the photo and the person, we're simply acknowledging that impressions from photos are often wrong.

Because while beauty or physical features do factor into how photos look, it's been proven that photos are not true to life, taking good photos has a lot to do with skill, and consequentially, different photos of the same person often give completely different impressions.

This is how it's possible to get a score of 1 for one photo and a score of 9 for another.

For these reasons, voters cannot score you as a person, only your photos.

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