You can never have too many friends—unless you’re on Facebook. With a 5,000 friend limit, people that are inundated with requests need to pick and choose. most of the people do that anyway, following the well-known advice to settle on your friends carefully. Anyone with a healthy respect for the risks of social media will value quality over quantity, exercising discretion in selecting Facebook friends.

But because most Facebook friend requests don’t come from people we all know well (if at all), recipients need to make quick decisions. So whether thanks to caution or calculation, how can we decide whether to feature others to our network? Research has some answers.

Putting Your Best Face Forward

On Facebook, as face to face , first impressions matter. one among the primary things people choose whether to simply accept your friend request is check out your profile—including your photo.

If you employ an avatar, whether it’s a superhero, your dog, or a well-liked slogan, viewers have less information to figure with. Unless they immediately identify as a kindred spirit supported your expressed ideology or interests, many will quickly delete your request without reading more.

If you employ a photograph of yourself, you express authenticity (assuming it’s somewhat recent), but also much more—and herein lies the challenge. How does one want to showcase yourself? An inappropriate photo, in terms of appearance, background, or expression, is enough to form someone decline or ignore your request no matter what percentage mutual friends you’ve got in common. this is often important to recollect if you would like to use Facebook to create your network both personally and professionally.

But interestingly, recipients consider other things also , a number of which could surprise you.

Attractive Facebook friends

Emily C. Koller et al. (2018) investigated how physical attractiveness interacts with political affiliation to impact the choice of whether or to not accept a Facebook friend request.[i] Their study participants included 120 undergraduate students who were randomly assigned to look at one among six conditions depicting the Facebook profile of a white male. Manipulations included physical attractiveness of the Facebook profile picture, and political affiliation: Republican, Democrat, and Independent.

Koller et al. found that study participants viewing the physically attractive subject were significantly more likely to simply accept the Facebook friend request as compared to the unattractive candidate. Similar political affiliation didn’t significantly increase the likelihood of accepting an invitation .

Why does attractiveness matter? The authors explain that attractive people could also be perceived as more competent, confident, and even mentally healthy than their less attractive counterparts. Consequently, participants might attribute such positive characteristics to a beautiful sender, resulting in a better likelihood of accepting the friend request.

Politics Matter Less

The one finding Koller et al. described as unexpected, was that Independents were even as likely to simply accept friend requests sent by attractive and unattractive candidates, no matter the sender’s political affiliation. this is often contrary to the findings about the behavior of the Republican and Democrat participants, who were significantly more likely to simply accept friend requests from attractive candidates, although the sender’s political affiliation was also influential.

With reference to party affiliation, Democrats were more likely to simply accept friend requests from attractive senders who identified as either Democrat or Republican, but were less impacted by attractiveness when considering senders who identified as Independent. Republicans were more likely to simply accept requests from attractive senders who were also Republican, or Independent, but were less influenced by attractiveness when considering requests made up of Democratic senders.

Conclusions and Caveats

Taken together, research indicates that when deciding to simply accept Facebook friend requests, people are likely to form quick decisions supported easily observable characteristics. Considering the quantity of data available to Facebook friends, however, both personally and professionally, further analysis is warranted.

If social media is a crucial a part of your life, it’s equally important you safeguard the private information you share, which incorporates wise deciding about who you permit into your network. An appreciation of how easy it’d be to simply accept requests from senders who look and sound too good to be true, but aren’t revealing the author the persona, should prompt a healthy reminder to trust but verify.

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