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.


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  2. That's interesting data. Males having a more feminine photo being perceived as more attractive is opposite of what I would have thought. Though, it's interesting that no other free-text section components were associated with attractiveness...genuine/trustworthy, masculine/feminine, introversion/extroversion.

  3. I never would have thought that women are looking for more feminine men, with a touch of masculinity. I do understand the female conclusion though. Overall, the results were not that shocking.