A new study came out this week discussing what happens when people enhance (aka fudge) their profile pictures on popular online dating sites and apps. The most interesting part of the findings was that they differed between men and women.
Researchers at the University of Connecticut have revealed that when men viewed enhanced photos of women, they perceived the women to be more attractive but less trustworthy. (This seems to make sense.) Women, however, found enhanced photos of men both increased attractiveness and increased trustworthiness. This one, I’m not so sure about…
They go on to say, “Our research also found that males found the beautified profile as more attractive and had a higher desire to date the person in the picture despite the lower degree of trustworthiness they reported,” the authors noted. “In our sample, attraction seems to be more important than trust.”
So, basically, men like hot women. That’s not news.
Here’s how the research went down:
This team of researchers performed a study that followed more than 300 heterosexual men and women aged 17 to 36 from different online dating sites. Men were asked several questions regarding different profiles of women and were then asked to rate the profiles under categories like attractiveness and trust. The images had been previously chosen so as to feature two distinct image types. One had been edited (including lighting, make-up, hair) while the other represented a “non-beautified” image. Then the women were questioned regarding male profiles that had undergone the same type of photo alterations.
Before I discuss the study’s implications, it’s important to take the results with a grain of salt for the following reasons:
- It’s not statistically significant.
- The age range is not representative of the average age of all online daters. (OkCupid’s reported median age last year was 29.)
- Those studied may have known—or figured out—what kind of study this was, thereby impacting the results.
What does this study actually mean? I read the results as a sign that when men see an exceptionally attractive picture, while they may see the woman in it as being less trustworthy, her superior looks overshadow that lack of trust. On the other hand, women see the better-looking picture of a man and actually think he’s more trustworthy. It is true that men just want looks, and women are able to rationalize things when they find someone attractive? Like, if he’s that good-looking, he must be smart and trustworthy and successful, too.
I know that since catfishing abounds, such information can be useful. But the best advice I can give is to use a real, unenhanced photo. When you show up on the date, you want to look just like your photos so 1) you can be recognized and 2) you can be truthful. Enhancing your photos—or otherwise lying in your profile—shows a lack of confidence, and you’re wasting your date’s time by making him or her agree to meet you only to realize it’s not the real you.