Faces Engage Us
In today’s world photos are becoming a dominant means of communicating. There are many online photo sharing sites like Instagram that provide people with the ability to turn photos into a social medium. Because of its popularity many people are trying to discover the mechanisms by which users communicate around these photos and how the engage with them. In the article “Faces Engage Us: Photos with Faces Attract More Likes and Comments on Instagram” the authors try to answer two main questions dealing with this. These questions are “do photos with faces differ in online engagement compared to photos without them?” and “if so, how do characteristics of the image subject, such as gender and age, affect engagement?”(Bakhshi, Shamma and Gilbert 1) The methods that the authors used to determine the answers to these questions were by using Instagram to conduct their research. They used a quantitative approach to investigate the relationship between online engagement and faces (3). The way they determined if there was engagement with the photos was by viewing the likes and comments of the photo. The number of likes, signals for the extent to which the content is interesting to users and the number of comments quantifies the level of discussion on the social network (3). What they then did was gather a random sample of popular photos from Instagram and then used snowball sampling to collect the users and their followers to gather a random set of their photos (4). After collecting all the photos they determined whether there was at least one human face in it. Once they determined the presences of faces, they then considered variables such as age and gender. After analyzing the photos, they used a negative binomial regression to model the number of likes and comments each photo had received to determine the overall engagement (6). The conclusion they had reached regarding the online engagement with photos that had human faces was that it had a positive correlation with the number or likes and comments that it received (7). They also determined that the number of faces doesn’t affect the number of like or comments the photo receives (7). So regardless if there are multiple faces in the photo, the simple fact that a face is in the image significantly impacts the number of likes by 38% and comments by 32% (2). In regards to the effects of age and gender it was determined that these variables didn’t show any strong effect on the image’s engagement (7). In some cases it was shown that the number of comments in photos with older adults actually decreased slightly which could be due to a lower presence in older age groups (7). The authors express that even though their work is based on quantitative studies and observational data, they can’t make any strong causal claims (8). But they believe that the best evidence to show online engagement with photos has mainly to do with faces because they are shown as powerful visual tools used in human nonverbal communication on a day to day basis (8). Within this article there are many principles of scientific thinking that could apply to their study. Two of these principles that stand out most clearly are correlation vs. causation and ruling out rival hypothesis. With the correlation vs. causation fallacy this is the error of assuming that because one thing is associated with another, that it must cause the other. This principle applies because in this study they believed that on account of there being a face in the photo it received more likes and comments than photos without faces in them. In the end just because there is a face in the photo it might not cause a like or comment. The reason that the photos received a like or comment could be due to another factor, that they didn’t take into account such as funny facial gestures. The way that they could have avoided this fallacy is by having more variable factors in place to determine what causes likes and...
Cited: Saeideh Bakhshi, David Shamma, and Eric Gilbert. "Faces Engage Us: Photos with Faces Attract More Likes and Comments on Instagram." Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech, n.d. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. .
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