News from Academia: People Like Pictures of Human Faces

By Jack Limpert

Futurity Today, a website that features the latest research news from top universities, today reported that researchers at Georgia Tech “looked at 1.1 million photos on Instagram and found that pictures with human faces are 38 percent more likely to receive likes than photos with no faces.”

That’s not news to the editors of People, who for 40 years have made their magazine successful by staying laser focused on people pictures. People’s circulation is more than 3.5 million, it costs more than $2 an issue to subscribe, and it costs $4 an issue on the newsstand.

If it’s that simple and profitable, you’d think the most magazines would have lots of pictures of people’s faces. You’d be wrong.

It’s surprising how few great face pictures you see in magazines today. It’s almost as if it’s too simple—you can imagine the editors and art directors saying anyone can come up with a picture like that, let’s be different, let’s be clever.

Editors and designers do get bored—come on, let’s try something new. Designers like showing off—how about we call that hot illustrator up in Toronto? But if you’re an editor who wants likes from readers, you can’t go wrong with great pictures of people. Georgia Tech is just the latest to prove it.

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