People instinctively understand this when choosing their profile photo so Toma and Hancock (2010) took photographs of internet daters, then judges compared these to the real profile photos.
Although less physically attractive people were the most likely to choose a self-enhancing photo, overall the differences were tiny.
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Believe the internet dating companies and it’s all sweetness and light, with wedding bells ringing in the distance; believe the media scare stories and it’s all lying, cheating, perverted social misfits. Fortunately, now there’s enough research to suggest what’s really going on.
So, here are my 10 favourite psychological insights on internet dating.
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Although 94% deny their internet dating profiles contain any fibs (Gibbs et al., 2006), psychologists are a suspicious lot. (2008) measured the heights and weights of 80 internet daters, as well as checking their driving licences for their real age.The lab photos were only a little less attractive than those chosen for online dating profiles (about 5% for women and 4% for men). Clues to which types of profile photos work come from one online dating site which has analysed 7,000 photographs in its database (oktrends, 2010): (Remember, these are all associations so we can’t be sure about causality.) Even amongst a diverse population of online daters, people still prefer someone who is similar to themselves.When Fiore and Donath (2005) examined data from 65,000 online daters, they found that people were choosing based on similarity to themselves.These lies make little difference in the real world because the vast majority of fibbing would have been difficult to detect in person.
Most people want to meet up eventually so they know big lies are going to be caught. Even without Photoshop to iron out the wrinkles, camera angles and lighting can easily change perceived attractiveness.
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