Thanks to digital cameras and Facebook, the average person easily has a hundred plus pictures of themselves in varying degree of inebriation to choose from when it comes to picking a profile picture. Just like in the real world, looks is what people notice first, so getting that right should probably be quite high on your priority list. But what constitutes a good shot of yours? Better use a picture of your last skiing trip or at home with your cat? Go for a sexy or an artistic look? Stare off in the distance mysteriously or flirt with the camera?
Turns out there’s actually quite a bit of research out there already on what works best in terms of profile pictures. And yes, research as in statistical analysis of which factors have which kind of impact. A lot of this as done by the free dating site OkCupid. Due to limited data though the conclusions were limited to heterosexual profiles. And the advice is indeed quite heterogenous, thus I’m splitting things up for men and women:
What’s important in picking the right profile picture for men?
According to a study by the University of British Columbia (‘Happy Guys Finish Last’), women perceive men who don’t smile as sexier. That soesn’t mean they’ll be more interested in relationships, but the findings in terms of ‘sexiness’ seem pretty clear.
Does this hold up in the online dating space? Turns out it does. Here’s a chart of facial attitude (expression, eye contact) based on research done by OkCupid:
What apparently works best is looking away from the camera without smiling. While not quite as effective, smiling is okay, so is flirting. However, flirting with anyone but the camera is probably not a good idea. So make sure your photographer is cute.
Since OkCupid has so good data on this, we can also rely them to find out what should make it into men’s profile pictures (e.g. dogs) and what shouldn’t (e.g. shirts). Laughed at those examples? They were actually spot on:
Of course things are a tad slighted towards people who actually have a body suitable for showing it off (there seems a curious lack of naked beer bellies in the sample). But going easy on shirts certainly doesn’t discourage women it seems. A more practical take-away message for the less fitness-inclined might be animals: Easier to ‘borrow’ your neighbour’s dog than to get your pectoral muscles into shape.
How are things different for women? Is it possible that showing off muscles doesn't quite have the same impact as it does for men?
Remember MySpace? Heard of the MySpace Angle? First pioneered (a euphemism for ‘First committed’) on the-site-that-got-stomped-by-Facebook it’s a self-shot that shows off some extra boobage while hiding some extra weight, often with added contrast or even blurriness to make cover up skin issues. Ridiculed again and again over the years, the haters apparently turned out to be wrong. And wrong by a lot:
So yes, the MySpace angle works. Though I hope that’s the last thing that’ll leak from that site. I dread coming across a study that actually proves blinking glitter gifs actually increase user engagement.
When only looking at cleavage - regardless of angle - the probably unsurprising finding is that it does help. What’s curious though is that the older women get, the bigger effect a cleavage shot has:
Maybe though in that case additional messages aren’t a great indicator of the desired result as this says little about the actual, uhm let’s say, quality of the messages received. When looking at the likeliness of a profile picture leading to a real conversion (as opposed to ‘Sup? Nice rack!’), things do look quite a bit different:
Whereas men are best off looking mysterious, women apparently have to smile and ideally look into the camera. You can also flirt with the camera. But those are your options: Smile or flirt. Apparently serious business is male business:
And for both:
One very surprising finding by the OkCupid team that holds true for men as well as women: Whether you show your face or not doesn’t seem to have any influence on how likely people are to contact you. As in, there’s zero difference. It’s actually more important to do something interesting in your profile picture (e.g. showing you on a dive or wandering through the desert) than to actually be recognizable in it.
As a guy: Take off your shirt and go bungee-jumping with your Border Collie while staring off mysteriously into the distance.
As a girl: Do a MySpace-Angle shot.
Ever felt that sense of regret after taking your friends advice either on a first date or suggestions on picking up a girl in bar? I’m sure its happened to the worst and best of us, leaving us in totally awkward situations staring blankly onto the floor. This is a good example from our beloved 9GAG showing us just how clueless some people can be.
After reading this, don’t you just wish you had the perfect dating advice?
Okcupid is not the only dating site to run their own blog and share insights. Unfortunately the alternatives are sometimes of dubious quality. Let's take a look at what Dr. Helen Fisher of match.com and chemistry.com blogs about kissing:
Your saliva has testosterone in it the hormone of sexual desire. Coincidentally, men tend to like sloppier kisses than women do. They may be (unconsciously or not!) trying to inject this sexy chemical during a kiss to woo a potential lover into bed. Interestingly, a woman?s breath and saliva change across the menstrual cycle, too. So with his sloppy kiss, a man may also be trying to pick up this subtle hint of her fertility.
Well, thanks Helen. The 'monkeys-are-brown-so-they-can-hide-behind-coconuts' line of reasoning strikes again. Not every single detail of our existence needs to absolutely positively be tracked back to improved procreation. Is there a chance of having a scientific study done before we get graced with further contributions of saliva-roofie-theories and tonsil-taste-pregnancy tests?
Other People's Advice - #1 Don't Quote Wayne Gretzky Taken from eHarmony's relationship advice forums it seems 3GIG seems to have a problem (and it's not only a rather unique definition of a 'mutual' break-up):
Luckily forum poster 'KikiAZ' not only helps out but also tells us what this is all about:
About a decade ago in internet years (meaning, June 2011), we saw the rise of a video that showed a self-proclaimed cat lady lose it about a minute into her 'eHarmony video profile'. Here's a quick reminder how that looked: It turned out quickly that there is no such thing as a 'video profile' on eHarmony and that the whole thing was a well done hoax by Cara Hartmann. However, that didn't prevent the internet from coming up with their own response videos. Michael for example really likes fish sticks, coloring books and... fingers. Lauren on the other hand really seems into rats. At first. My personal favorite though is probably the "Lib Dems" lover. Of course eHarmony couldn't allow the impression to spread that there's actually something witty connected to them. They thus set out to publish an official video response that ensured that any potential image improvement they gained from this went down the drain again.
Not quite yet. I mean if eHarmony were to be free, imagine how many profiles would suddenly emerge. However, the word 'free' used here is for eHarmony's 'free communication weekend'. eHarmony holds the event on July 4th to July 8th. A full five days of texting and messaging your matches on eHarmony.
As noticed by us and other bloggers, this is starting to become quite common in online dating sites. Sites hold these so-called events to get people hyped up and ready to extreme-mingle. If you're like alot of us using these dating sites, and also if this trend continues, you might want to check back at our blog more frequently of at the site you are currently using.
I think this is a great event for people to actually be able to reach out to their matches and initiate that first online move. Anyhow, hope you find your match soon!
Dating sites tend to cater to different user groups - visitors of eHarmony are usually assumed to be on the search for 'the one'. Other sites are less explicit about who they're targeting and thus, more importantly, what kind of people you might find there. OkCupid was mostly made popular through posting facetious statistics on their blog that were based on the interactions of their members. From religious people having lower writing proficiency to the effectiveness of the 'MySpace Angle', the findings tended to provide a provocative glimpse of the online dating population and attracted significant media interest. But who is it that OkCupid is actually analyzing? Let's take a look at the top 5 other websites the fans of the OkCupid blog visit, something that Google Trends is nice enough to provide:
- xkcd.com This appears to be the site that most OkCupid blog visitors have in common. It describes itself as a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language. This slightly puzzling self-testimony translates to this:
- theatlantic.com A general editorial magazine, covering foreign affairs, politics, and the economy as well as cultural trends is how Wikipedia describes it. Think monthly TIME magazine.
- wired.com One of the most popular technology magazines following the interaction of technology with culture, society and politics with a readership that's notorious for their love of spiders.
- gizmodo.com A gadget and consumer electronics blog that primarily covers iAnything and other electronic toys. As well as pretty much any topic related to people who like gadgets. Or that's just plainly bizarre. Like the squirrel catapult.
- cracked.com Nowadays mostly known for funny and bizarre articles that have numbers in their headlines, cue '15 Images You Won't Believe Aren't Photoshopped'.
While not necessarily representative for everybody on okcupid.com, its blog readers seem to be fond of humor, technology, and take a keen interest in foreign policy (and spiders). So if you are okay with setting up your date via WhatsApp, enjoy reading TIME magazine and don't mind pets, you can head over to OkCupid and get to know some like-minded people.
With the U.S. following China everywhere, Match.com has recently announced that it has bought a 20% share into one of the largest online dating sites in China. Quite a predictable move for any investor as China does hold over 140 million online dating users when compared to the 40 millions users in the United States of America.
The site that Match.com announced a share in was the company Zhenai Inc which operates a huge Chinese dating site with over 30 millions registered users and counting. They noted that it was in their goals to advance into the global market where Match.com is already present in more than 25 countries.