FaceStat – which allows you to rate (and be rated on) attractiveness, occupation, political leanings, and several other characteristics of random individuals who post their picture – seems to be one more twist in social networking sites that bills itself as “market research for the individual. ” My initial gut reaction was, “Yeah, its stereotyping at its worst,” but isn’t that what we do with brands (or nearly anything else when we first see it)?
We even test for this during focus groups or other methods of testing logos, media, etc, when we are asking for people’s initial reaction. What does it remind you of? What does it convey? Though, when doing it with real people it may become too personal.
It would be interesting to compare different people with the same descriptions to see if trends start appearing. Does certain clothing make an individual smart? Does smiling in their picture make them more likely to be attractive? Can you really tell how liberal someone is just by looking at them?
Of course, the value of the ratings are only as good as the people doing the ratings. Most people, if they click at all, are probably only going to rate a few pictures before they lose interest and spend their time on the web doing something more interesting. Those few souls who, for whatever reason, like rating pictures will likely be doing most of the ratings. And whatever their reasons for doing so, it probably makes them (and likely their ratings) systematically different from the majority of society.