Though photographs of real people are typically used to portray personas, there is little research into the potential advantages or disadvantages of using such images, relative to other image styles.
In this research, lead by Joni Salminen, we conducted an experiment with 149 participants, testing the effects of six different image styles on user perceptions and personality traits that are attributed to personas by the participants.
Results show that perceptions of clarity, completeness, consistency, credibility, and empathy for a persona increase with picture realism.
Personas with more realistic pictures are also perceived as more agreeable, open, and emotionally stable, with higher confidence in these assessments.
We also find evidence of the uncanny valley effect, with realistic cartoon personas experiencing a decrease in the user perception scores.
Salminen, J., Jung, S.G., Santos, J., Kamel, A. M., and Jansen, B. J. (2021) Picturing It!: The Effect of Image Styles on User Perceptions of Personas. ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI2021), Yokohama, Japan. 8-13 May. Article No.: 430.