HotAIR - MAY WE RECOMMEND -- The Psychology of Yearbook Pictures


The Psychology of Yearbook Pictures

Items that merit a trip to the library

by Alice Shirrell Kaswell, AIR staff

Thanks to work done recently at UC Berkeley, we now know that a person's college yearbook photo has implications for later life -- at least if that person is a woman, and if she was a student in the class of 1958 or in the class of 1960 at Mills College, a private women's college in Oakland, California.

The research is described in the report "Expressions of Positive Emotion in Women's College Yearbook Pictures and Their Relationship to Personality and Life Outcomes Across Adulthood," LeeAnne Harker and Dacher Keltner, Journal of Personality and Personal Psychology, vol. 80, no. 1, 2001, pp. 112–24. The authors report that:

Observers rated women displaying more positive emotion more favorably on several personality dimensions and expected interactions with them to be more rewarding; thus, demonstrating the beneficial social consequences of positive emotions. Finally, positive emotional expression predicted favorable outcomes in marriage and personal well-being up to 30 years later.

Stamp of Excellence

The American Psychological Association highlighted this research report in a special press release. Thus we can be certain that the questions it addresses, the methods it uses, and the conclusions it reaches are solid, important, and exemplary. Clearly, more research (of this type) is needed.

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