Saturday, March 28, 2009

Assessing Attractiveness in Online Dating Profiles

Commented on:
Patrick Surber
Josh Meyers
Ben Cartsen

By: Andrew T. Fiore, Lindsay S. Taylor, G.A. Mendelshon, Marti Hearst

The following CHI2008 paper explored the components of an online dating website profile that had the biggest impact on the profile as a whole and its effectiveness as a predictor on how well the profile as a whole would be perceived. It was an interesting article that presented some unexpected results.

50 online profiles were chosen from 5 different cities across the United States. 5 male and 5 female from each city. Each profile consisted of 3 components, a picture, a fixed-choice portion and a free-text portion. 65 participants were selected to evaluate the profiles through a custom-build website. Participants were asked to rate the whole profile and profile components using a five-point Likert-type scale from 0 to 4 on the following dimensions:

Genuine, trustworthy
Warm, kind

The results were standardized by using "ipsatization".

To predict the attractiveness of each profile, a regression model was used.

Figure 1. (Click to see full size)
Photobucket source:

Predicting whole profile attractiveness:

For men:
High masculinity ratings predicted high overall profile attractiveness.

For women:
High extraversion ratings predicted high overall profile attractiveness.

Whole profile attractiveness and component attractiveness:

Photo attractiveness was a strong predictor for both men and women. The free-text section was also a significant predictor for both, although not as much as the photos.

Figure 2. (Click to see full size)

For both men and women, photo attractiveness and free-text attractiveness held significance for the overall profile. This data correlate with the previous results. It is important to have both an attractive photo as well as an attractive free-text section to have an overall high attractiveness for the profile.

Whole profile attractive and other components:

For men:
When their pictures were seen as more genuine and trustworthy and relatively less warm and kind, they were seen as more attractive. Also when they seemed more extraverted in their photos and feminine. (That’s not a typo)

In the free-text section, men's profile was seen more attractive when they were perceived as genuine, trustworthy, and extraverted. High ratings of masculinity and being perceived as feminine were both associated with attractiveness.

For women:
The whole profile was seen more attractive when their photo was seen as having more self-esteem and being more feminine, less masculine. Lower self-centeredness was also associated with a generally more attractive rating.

No association of attractiveness with any other free-text section components.

For men, it is better to be perceived as more genuine and trustworthy, a picture that seemed feminine, but a high masculinity rating for the overall profile.

For women, it is better to be perceived as extraverted, not self-centered and not masculine. A photo that showed high self-esteem was also positive.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Emotional Design - Donald Norman

Commented on:
John Book

Once again I find myself getting more acquainted with Mr. Donald Norman. I must say though, that this book does present him a little differently than the two previous ones. While I have complained about how he complains about designs in the previous books, this one seemed to have a lesser amount of such complaints. Not that they aren’t legitimate concerns, but I guess I just sympathize with designers a little more and feel like the consumer do have some responsibility in learning the product rather than expecting a “perfect” design, especially with the difficulties presented by the varying degrees of standards from user to user. In Emotional Design, Norman talks about three effects a design has. Visceral, behavioral and reflective. Each design is important, but serves a different purpose. Some fear that certain designers focus too much on the behavioral part, sacrificing the visceral and reflective designs. Personally, I wouldn’t mind something looking a little less extravagant if it makes up for it in functionality, but I guess not everyone is willing to accept that compromise. Or rather, according to some, that compromise shouldn’t have been made in the first place perhaps. Norman’s fascination with robots and its role in society today and in the future occupies a good portion of the book. As more and more advanced and intelligent robots are created and used throughout society, certain concerns are raised. Human interaction with these machines are inevitable in some parts for now, but with this area of opportunity increasing rapidly, designers must find a way to integrate robots into our lives unobtrusively while satisfying the different needs. I did like some of Norman’s ideas of changing up the conventional designs of household items to work better with robots. His idea of a kitchen more suited to work with robots was amusing and seemed like something a researcher could first implement in a test house and possibly adopted by the mass later on. The problems he described with will be realized soon enough with the advancement of technology, but perhaps the rate of change will be at a pace that allows designers and engineers to adjust and fix the present problems fast enough to not hinder the success of this technology. The good thing about this is that consumers can adapt to this technology at their own pace and will not feel obligated or forced to change, thus easing the transition and perhaps lessening the burdens that designers will have. If the consumer is personally interested enough to change their current lifestyle in order to take advantage of this new technology, then hopefully they’ll also make the extra effort of learning how things should work. Overall, Emotional Design was an interesting read, especially for those who have read his previous books.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Man who Shocked the World

Commented on:
Brad Twitty

While I've heard of the experiment performed by Stanely Milgram, I had not really known much about this man until I read this book. "The Man Who Shocked the World" was an excellent biography of a man who had some really interesting ideas. I thought the book was a good read overall. The parts about the experiments and his ideas were well laid out and provided adequate details about his ideas, theories and implementation. The results were interesting to see, while surprising to some. I’ll admit that at first, even I would think that the subjects of the experiment would not go as far as some did, and even then, with some variations of the experiment, some of the actions of the test subjects surprised me even more. In particular is the one variation where the subject actually had to physically force the learner’s hand onto a metal plate to receive the shocking for punishment. To go that far simply under the instructions of a stranger in a lab coat seemed a little extreme to me. However, while I may say that, I cannot really say as to whether I would have done the same under similar circumstances. While the main focus of his career was the obedience project, I was also interested in his other experiment about the small world phenomenon. This experiment seemed very accessible to anyone who is interested and has people that are actually willing to participate. It really doesn’t take too much work from each person, but simply to pass it on to someone they think will help connect the source to the destination. If possible, I wouldn’t mind trying this out myself one day. With the available technology today, it’s possible to reach someone much easier than before, provided that the given target has the necessary ‘tools’. Although this will limit the experiment somewhat, as opposed to conventional mailing or actually going in person, but the basic idea still stands. Now that I have read the book, I guess I wouldn’t be such a good subject in any future obedience experiments that use shock boxes……or would I??