My company users an interoffice messenger. Recently, they are disabling the ability for users to upload pictures (we will then have the default shadow pictures). This is basically an "easy button" for them rather than try to manage/process this effectively.

The entire team I work with is remote and so we have difficulties in connecting already. Pictures are, at least anecdotally, a way to better develop a community and better relationship from teams that will never see each other face to face.

Is there research discussing the benefit of this sort of picture on the effectiveness of online collaboration?

I am referring to the picture in this image (from here):

enter image description here

1 Answer 1


A profile picture creates many psychological benefits in contrast to not having one at all.

Your company uses a messenger to communicate with various clients or employees. Hence, this involves generally two or more entities communicating.

Psychologically, when you have a profile photo:

  1. You believe you're talking to someone real.
  2. You are calmer and can relate to what the sender has to say.
  3. You distinguish them from the other employees through their photo, avoiding awkward "Wrong person" messages.
  4. It's easy to recognize the person you're speaking to, since they have a photo, so next time you have to hand them something confidential, you have to find them.

It's similar to Dating. A person's profile is going to get more views when he has an appropriate profile photo than not having one at all.

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