January, 2010 Archives

Women and men who show skin in their profile photos will get more messages. This is not only conventional wisdom, but based on data culled by the staff at OK Cupid. Many of the findings run counter to the assumption.

Among the startling conclusions of their research:

  • The Myspace photo, where a girl takes a picture of herself with a camera photo, is surprisingly effective
  • So too are men’s six-pack shots and shots of women who prominently feature their cleavage
  • Flirty photos photos get less traction than fun flicks

All in all, it was quite remarkable to see how data upholds or refutes what we thought we knew about dating online. However, what is missing from this data is analysis and I thought I would step in to fill the void.

Firstly, women who show off skin and breasts are much more likely to receive responses. Why is this news to anyone. While we might be going to dating sites in order to find a suitable person to date, as animals we’re cued-in to respond to strong sexual signals. Marks of physical fitness, and traits likely to produce desirable qualities in offspring are going to be a natural winners. It’s not rocket science; it’s biology.

I was intrigued that photos without faces or partially obscured faces get a lot of responses as well. It seems counter-intuitive, but the article suggested that we like a little bit of mystery in our lives.

What was not a surprise:

  • Attractiveness decreases with age
  • Drinking pictures don’t excite
  • Guys’ travel photos are a turn-off

Again these points are simple. While we may be on the hunt for sexual partners, we don’t want anything to destroy the illusion that something more is possible. My guess is that when women see travel photos they think that the guy could split at any moment and leave them to take of the kid. Drinking shots give off the impression that if the guy were to stick around he would be a lousy father because he would always be drunk. And age, well, youth is sexy.

I commend OK Cupid for combing through their user data to come up with scientific methods for success. Any time science and sex meet, the results are always brain food.