The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures

January 20th, 2010 by Christian Rudder

Hello, old friends. I am back from dark months of data mining, here now to present my ores. To write this piece, we cataloged over 7,000 photographs on OkCupid.com, analyzing three primary things:

  • Facial Attitude. Is the person smiling? Staring straight ahead? Doing that flirty lip-pursing thing?
  • Photo Context. Is there alcohol? Is there a pet? Is the photo outdoors? Is it in a bedroom?
  • Skin. How much skin is the person showing? How much face? How much breasts? How much ripped abs?

In looking closely at the astonishingly wide variety of ways our users have chosen to represent themselves, we discovered much of the collective wisdom about profile pictures was wrong. For interested readers, I explain our measurement process, and how we collected our data, at the end of the post. All my bar charts are zeroed on the average picture. Now to the data.

MYTH 1
It’s better to smile

One of the first things we noticed when diving into our pool of photos is that men and women have very different approaches to the camera.

Women smile about 50% more than men do and make that flirty-face four times as often.

Now, you’re always told to look happy and make eye contact in social situations, but at least for your online dating photo, that’s just not optimal advice. For women, a smile isn’t strictly better: she actually gets the most messages by flirting directly into the camera, like the center and right-hand subjects above.

Notice that, however, that flirting away from the camera is the single worst attitude a woman can take. Certain social etiquettes apply even online: if you’re going to be making eyes at someone, it should be with the person looking at your picture.

Men’s photos are most effective when they look away from the camera and don’t smile:

Maybe women want a little mystery. What is he looking at? Slashdot? Or Engadget?

It’s interesting that while making flirty eye contact is relatively okay for men, flirting away from the camera is the worst thing they, too, can do.

MYTH 2
The MySpace Angle Is Busted

The universally-maligned MySpace angle is achieved by holding your camera above your head and being just so darn coy.

We were sure these pictures were lame; in fact, the prospect of producing hard data on just how lame got us all excited. But we were so wrong.

In terms of getting new messages, the MySpace shot is the single most effective photo type for women. We at first thought this was just because, typically, you can kind of see down the girl’s shirt with the camera at that angle—indeed, that seems to be the point of shot in the first place—so we excluded all cleavage-showing shots from the pool and ran the numbers again. No change: it’s still the best shot; better, in fact, than straight-up boob pics (more on those later).

Weird.

MYTH 3
Guys should keep their shirts on

The male “Ab Shot” has the same reputation as the MySpace Shot—it’s an Internet cliché that supposedly everyone thinks is only for bozos. To wit: a journalist was visiting our office recently, and when we told her we were researching user photos, the first thing she said was “please tell me people hate it when guys show off their abs.” We hadn’t finished running the numbers yet, so we confidently reassured her that people did. The data contradicted us.

Of course, there is some self-selection here: the guys showing off their abs are the ones with abs worth showing, and naturally the best bodies get lots of messages. So we can’t recommend this photo tactic to every man. But, contrary to everything you read about profile pictures, if you’re a guy with a nice body, it’s actually better to take off your shirt than to leave it on. We would never suggest to a Fitzgerald or a Dave Eggers to limit his profile to 100 words, and so why should guys with great bodies keep their best asset under wraps?

Dating, both online and off is about playing to your strengths, and it should be no different for men with muscles, even if the classic pose is kinda hard to take:

After weeks of sorting through pictures, I started calling these guys headless horsemen.

An interesting caveat here is that a six-pack does seem to have a short shelf life: the effectiveness of the “abs pic” decreases sharply with age.

A 19 year-old showing his abs meets just under 1.4 women for every women he reaches out to, meaning that not only are females responding to his messages, but many are actually contacting him first. For a 31 year-old ab shower, that ratio has regressed to much closer to the average.

Because of our restricted data set for this post, we can only make confident claims for 19 to 31 year-olds right now, but it’s our strong suspicion that this downward trend continues with age. In the future perhaps we can investigate what’s behind the decline: is it because older guys and their older abs are inherently less attractive, or because women as they age find body shots less interesting?

One final point, vis à vis men, their torsos, and the clothing thereupon: if you’re not the type of guy who can show off your muscles, don’t veer off in the opposite direction and get all dressed up. Outfits more sophisticated than a simple collared shirt fare poorly:

The Cleavage Shot

There are no clear myths associated with showing cleavage in your picture. Most “experts” recommend you don’t, but everyone knows that breasts get attention, so to treat that recommendation as a “myth” would be disingenuous. But since the Cleavage Shot is the feminine analogue of the Ab Shot, and an undisputed online dating archetype, we thought we should discuss it.

Like the Ab Shot, the Cleavage Shot is very successful, drawing 12.9 new contacts per month, or 49% more than average. But unlike the Abs Shot, this positive effect actually trends against the effects of age.

As you would expect, women get fewer and fewer new messages as they age (which is a topic for another whole post!), but this decrease in new contacts is substantially slower for women with cleavage pics. A 32 year-old woman showing her body gets only 1 less message a month than the equivalent 18 year-old; an older woman not showing off gets 4 messages less, a large relative fall-off in popularity. The older the woman, the more relatively successful she is showing off her body

We find this anti-aging trend surprising. When we look further into the data, we can see that as women get older, they are more hesitant to emphasize their bodies, despite its still being a good strategy (at least in terms of message volume). Instead, they increasingly choose to show themselves in non-sexual contexts, like being outdoors:

For women in their late teens and early twenties, body pictures are the most popular type of shot; outdoor pictures are second. This ordering is reversed by the mid-twenties.

To wrap up our cleavage discussion, let’s assess the kind of messages the cleavage-showers are getting. A message like “Hey nice rack” isn’t really gonna lead anywhere, and isn’t very valuable to the recipient. We looked a level deeper and analyzed what resulted from the incoming contacts. Did the messages go unanswered? Did they turn into legitimate conversations? We didn’t go through anyone’s inbox to do this; we mathematically modeled a “conversation,” based number of messages back and forth. And we discovered the following:

This chart gives excellent insight as to why to the subject of this picture:

gets many more meaningful messages than does the subject of this one:

even though the two women are basically the same age, spend the same amount of time on the site, have similar profile length and quality, and have the same “attractiveness” as rated by OkCupid’s male population. If you want worthwhile messages in your inbox, the value of being conversation-worthy, as opposed to merely sexy, cannot be overstated.

MYTH 4
Make sure your face is showing

We used to think that the one iron-clad rule of Internet dating photos was to at least show your face. In fact, we used to give this very advice on OkCupid’s own photo upload page:

That page reads differently now because we found that all other things being equal whether you show your face really doesn’t affect your messages at all.

When at first these results came back, we didn’t believe it. We installed all kinds of sophisticated photo analysis software libraries, ran scripts to measure the percentage of face in each of our photos, generated diabolically meaningless scatter plots:

But the facts were stubborn: your face doesn’t necessarily matter. In fact, not showing your face can in fact be a positive, as long as you substitute in something unusual, sexy, or mysterious enough to make people want to talk to you.

All of the above subjects get far more messages than average, and yet none of them have outstanding profiles. The pictures do all the work: in different ways, they pique the viewer’s curiosity and say a lot about who the subject is (or wants to be).

Of course, we wouldn’t recommend that you meet someone in person without first seeing a full photo of them, that still seems like a recipe for disaster. In the near future, we’re going to be arranging series of blind dates through the site, and profile photo accuracy vs. the success of the date will be a big part of the report. Thanks for reading.

How we collected and evaluated this data

Our data set was chosen at random from all users in big cities, with only one profile photograph, between the ages of 18 and 32. We then lopped the most and least attractive members of the pool, fearing that they would skew our results. So all the data in this post is for “average-looking people;” here’s a graphical representation of that concept for the female pool.

After a bit more sifting, we finalized our data pool at 7,140 users. Aside from running each picture through a variety of analysis scripts, we tagged, by hand, each picture for various contextual indicators. We double-checked the tags before generating our data.

To quantify “profile success” for women, we used new messages received per active month on the site.

We had to do something different than this for guys, because of the fundamentally different role they play in the online courtship process: they are the ones reaching out to new people; women send only a small fraction of the unsolicited “hellos” that men do. As you’ve seen, the metric we settled on is, “women met per attempt”, which is:

(new incoming messages + replies to outgoing first contacts)
/
outgoing first contacts

Basically, this is how many women a guy has a conversation with, per new woman he reaches out to, and we feel it’s the best way to measure his success per unit time on OkCupid. Note that if a guy has a particularly compelling photo, this ratio could exceed 1, as he’d be getting messages from the women who come across his profile, as well as the women he himself is reaching out to.

366 Responses to “The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures”

  1. single says:

    A mission for the myth-busters!
    it’s always good when the truth behind popular beliefs is revealed ….

    but much better would be, if it was just a secret information for some chosen few ;-)

  2. Noah says:

    Actually I’m a 28yr old female user and I detest the ab shot in males or any shot that doesn’t at least have their face in it as the default. Yes he can post pics of his awesome trip to Bermuda in the other pics but his default should be his face otherwise I just skip along to the next profile. Whatever a person says in their profile is just words, but their face speaks more about them. Don’t tell me you love to party and have a good time, when in your picture you are just showing off your torso. Or don’t tell me how philosophical and studious you are when on your default you are drunk off your rocker and flashing people. Kind of like that. Pictures always prove..what words try to hide or exaggerate.

    I also think the reason an “abs shot” at 30s is less attractive..at least when I look at them, is because I expect an 18 year old guy to run around flashing the cam. By 35? That’s ridiculous to do. A man in his 30s who says he has a great career and is looking to settle down should not run around showing his belly..it makes him out to be a lying man-whore. Or worse..if he is in his 30s and ADMITS to being a man-whore, his picture just proves it more..it’s distasteful. Whereas the 18 year old can say “I LOVE TO PARTY” and he flashes his abs..it gets an eye-roll out of me, yes, but it’s the typical thing so I don’t find it out of character.

    Kind of like “I don’t care how fresh and punk your grandpa is..I don’t want to see his abs” even if they are immaculate. I think the same goes for women..I don’t think a lady advertising herself as “married, divorced with 3 kids at 45″ should have pictures of herself drunk and showing off cleave..I just don’t find that sort of thing tasteful at all..I am sure some horn-dogs out there might, it only makes her look like an easier lay and probably accounts for the popularity. Who knows..

    All I can say is, I like pics on a guy that show his face, NOT what he is doing or who he is with, to me that’s just flaunting peacock feathers that don’t count in how well you will get along cause when we go out on a date I wont be looking at his Scuba Gear I will be looking into his green eyes right? So SHOW them! I like it when he doesn’t smile because I feel I can be the one to bring it out in him and I’m curious to see how it looks in person. I like it when he looks away from the camera, not just because it’s mysterious but because it shows he has other things on his mind than just “hey babe, what’s YOUR name” which is a turn-off for me the same way winks are.

    Well that’s my take on it..maybe some of you agree?

  3. Noah says:

    @CPT in AZ

    I actually like the skinnier men compared to the muscular men. Why? because a skinny guy is not self absorbed. When I was going to the gym, I worked out to stay healthy..I don’t pass up muscular men because I don’t feel I can “keep up with them” NO I pass them up because I see them in the gym 24/7 and they are OBSESSED and dedicated to their workout..I asked myself “where the heck are their families? Their girlfriends?” THAT is why I pass up muscular men..to me it equals “Does not spend time with the gf” and what kind of lady wants that?

    I prefer the skinny metrosexual, cause YES he does care about how he looks, he has a good metabolism obviously AND he can dedicate some time to his lady rather than the weights. That gets a big thumbs up from me every time!

    Call it judgmental..I call it the right a lady has to choose her preferences..it’s a biological thing, so quit whining about why you are single and keep taking pics of your muscles I’m sure they keep you company!

  4. umi says:

    What about glasses? I have a guy friend that swears he’s been getting laid more since he started wearing fake glasses.

  5. saeril says:

    Have you considered doing a similar post profile picture successes and failures for gay, bisexual, and lesbian OKCupid users?

  6. Dan Walker says:

    Funny. And sort of off topic. When I advertise to attract people to Weopia virtual world dating, the ads that do best for both men and women are cleavage shots. That’s sad and it disappoints me in that our creative energies are lost to simple stock photos of cleavage. Maybe we’re just not creative enough yet, but deep down, I wonder if that just might be the case with people. We haven’t totally succumbed yet.

  7. SueZe says:

    GLASSES… yes… on a GOOD looking man, glasses are totally hot. As long as they are stylish. You can take a total keg jockey loser and with a single pair of Gaultier frames transform him into boyishly handsome ivy league trust fund hottie.

    So guy… what about a lady in glasses… hot or not?

  8. Zorku says:

    I’ll have to get a picture of my dog’s six pack I guess.

    By these metrics I’ve been doing prety good on the site but it’s still feeling like a miserable waste of time. I’ve had probably less than five real conversations in ten months, though I’d skew the statistic quite a bit because of how hard I tried to keep things rolling after a girl was down to little enough interest that she was just sending one word replies. Pointing this out and trying to change to another topic would get a slightly thought out reply but they went right back to giving it no input.

    But after about eight months I managed to learn to forget what I thought I knew and I get a fair number of girls replying to messages prodding at how they must be sick of the guys looking for an immediate sexual encounter. This site would probably benefit from a way for users to flag those so that most girls not looking for casual sex wouldn’t have to actually see those people.

  9. nunya says:

    and I think that is all I need to know from this. I am going to have to formulate my own profile questionnaire. the internet is beyond ridiculous now. cleave shot, myspace pose..seriously I miss the green screen so much.

  10. Chris Fox says:

    I’m not sure whether Noah is just being ageist (“A man in his 30s… should not run around showing his belly… it makes him out to be a lying man-whore”), or doesn’t want to give guys with hot bodies their due. Maybe she’s jealous of guys who have better abs than she does?

  11. yabbi says:

    What about the perennial ‘Here I am seated on a motorcycle’ photo men (especially middle-aged men) seem to love to post? Almost as bad as the guy holding a fish he just caught, as if women care (my ex has one posted now that he’s looking to date again. feh)

  12. Jenkem says:

    LOL, like i’m sure enough guys on here weren’t self conscious enough about themselves…now reading this article? You should do a study on how many males haven’t logged into the site since reading this or deleted their accounts :P

  13. Chris Fox says:

    P.S. to Noah – If you’re going to criticize guys with muscles who spend time in the gym to look good, are you also going to criticize girls who spend time on their hair, makeup, fingernails, clothes shopping, etc., in order to look good? Or is your argument basically sexist?

  14. kimbav says:

    Even though, as an older user, I do like to know that a guy is still in reasonable shape, the ab shot comes across as vain & self-absorbed. The exception is if it seems to be an action shot – he’s standing at the top of Half Dome or in the waves in Hawaii. By far the worst, which I’m surprised no one has mentioned, is the guy who is standing next to his car, especially his Porshe, Lexus, Mercedes, etc. It’s clear he thinks he IS his car. I like to see pictures where I can see the face. In my age group, pictures with your kids count for a lot, especially if you seem to be enjoying yourself.

  15. Krisina says:

    you’ve researched ab shots, but what about package shots? someone’s package shot began a whole conversation and creative idea exchange between me and someone else, so that’s go to count for something, right?

  16. Harry in ND says:

    This was a very interesting article for me to read as a 50-year-old guy. My thoughts:

    1) I changed my photos from directly looking into the camera to looking away after reading this article. I did not like the former pics – even I looked creepy to me.

    2) Shots which emphasize boobs are a turn-off for me. Sure, I like breasts as most men do, but I don’t want you flashing them for everyone. Just for me, okay?

    3) I am glad that I am not the only one getting minimal responses.

  17. Shanna says:

    I have awesome profile pictures and I get a ton of messages.

    Too many. I’m sure it’s the bloody nose.

  18. wncaslr says:

    guys at any age with a hot body are entitled to show off what they have and that bahavior doesnt logically tie into a ridiculous claim that they are being immature. I find the persons rant about abs photos and immaturity to be unintelligent and emotional and I favor anyone who has the goods to show off. also, I found that prsons argument of profile presentation to be interesting only because I think that people are not all sticks in the mud out to write an organized and relevant term paper on themsleves in a social media sight nor do they have to care about what you think is proper or right. I like beefy guys. not boring weak guys!

  19. Jonathan Smyth says:

    I love this blog

    Keep it up!

    -Jonathan

  20. Jade says:

    The MySpace shot also makes the viewer feel taller, that is, how a taller male would see a shorter female. The effectiveness of the angle can be explained by the preference of males to feel tall/powerful relative to a female who is diminuitive in stature.

  21. Foobar says:

    @wncaslr, how old are you? The tone and content of your post suggest you’re under 25, probably close to 20. If you reply, don’t lie.

    It makes sense that 20ish women are more attracted to ab shots than 30ish women. Noah gained a more mature perspective over time, and her preferences match her current goals.

    And as the study said, men’s preferences don’t change as much over time. I’m 40ish (pre-owned) and for me a competent woman with a good looking cleavage shot (or bikini, miniskirt, etc) gets priority over an equal woman with typical pics. If she’s my age, she still has it, and she’s willing to flaunt it in the right circumstances, that’s all good in my book.

  22. Perseus says:

    The “myspace shot” works because it feels genuinely provocative without being crude. There’s a risque “amateur pr0n” element to it, as well as a mystery element. It makes the girl seem hot, sexual, but also mysterious, as well as hard to get without being a princess.

  23. Bill Jones says:

    another photo that needs to go is the one where the woman is hanging out with a guy, especially if it is an intimate photo… if the you’re making out with a guy in your photo why would I ever want to send you a message?

    and honestly, I don’t think most people want to know anything about anyone’s ex’s, ha the only thing worse than talking about your ex on a first date is showing yourself making out with the ex before the first date

  24. GuidoDeutsch says:

    Great Analysis, very interesting results, and good and professional way to present them, as well. It is always very surprising how the data contradicts “common sense”. Looking forward to your next piece of work!

  25. TallBoy72 says:

    meet…or don’t

    that’s the only question…you all overthink this…
    nerds….

    (ratio of stats article commenters to hot dates = infinity)

    signed,
    respectfully,
    shy nerd who learn(ed)s
    a.k.a. takes one to know one

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    p.s. TOO FUNNY: my overthink #1 here is how the Male-Female success dynamic on this site is spelled out in terms of what a lady ‘recieves’ and what a man gives. Pretty darn “yin-yang”, if you know what I mean? coincidence? i think not…i think Harvard fools are pimpin’ nature…obvious nature…weak…weak and wack….!

    p.p.s. SAD BUT TRUE: my overthink #2, who benefits from this article? if people don’t understand that you’re basically ‘advertising’ on any online site AND out in life in general, then wha tha fuh? by the time (most) anyone enters online dating, they’ve already experienced enough societal interaction to know if they’re generally considered hot…
    so basically, only shy nerdbangers and blatant dumbassess might possibly benefit from this article…
    should my conclusion be that this site is predominantly occupied by said nerdbangers and blatant dumbasses, and so the site publishes an article that is catered toward helping it’s largest target market(s)?
    wow, nerds and lamers figuring out how to steal from nerds and lamers…
    corporate….

  26. Lex says:

    I think it’s worth studying the interests and desired relationships of people with these different types of photos, and the same of the people who are likely to make contact with them. People who are looking for casual sex and those looking for long-term dating are going to react very differently to different photos. I’d also bet that Mormons and Wiccans react very differently to cleavage.

    @Giselda: Quite frankly, you’re being naive. A person’s photo often tells about their personality better than their looks. For example, if they’re making silly faces, they’re likely to be energetic, and if they’re holding a gun and 20 fanned out one-dollar bills, they’re likely to be some idiot gangsta wannabe poser.

  27. naghthere says:

    This is the second blog entry I’ve read, the second time I’m impressed, and so the second time I’m commenting. Keep up the good work!

    Your analysis on all of this is really interesting, and the results quite helpful. For myself, I HAVE to see a face shot or I probably won’t message her. A woman can have the best body in the world, but it’s her face I might wake up to one day. I want to see the chemistry, strength, and intelligence in her eyes. Is life HAPPENING in there??

    Here’s a question for more analysis: what effect does multiple photos have? Take my selection as an example- six photos. In some, I’m dressed up, others t-shirt & jeans. In some, I’m just there, maybe smiling, maybe not. Others, I’m doing something possibly interesting. So what does the composite collection of photos say about the person? What traffic patterns come from the composite collection?

    Watch out… all this data analysis of an on-line culture is right up my alley… I might come for your job! :)

  28. Alyx7 says:

    On Abs :
    I’m 29 year old lady but I still find abs attractive. My first impression is this guy bothers to make the effort to look hot and this effort would have please his girlfriend/wife, if not the whole female population. It gives me the impression that he is strong enough to take care of himself &me and is willing to work hard to keep it that way.

    A 30 year old man with abs is even more attractive than a 19 year old because he is more likely to remain hot at 35 or 40 compared to that 19 year old. Oh sorry, I know this contradicts with the charts.

    Men with abs can be as attentive as those without. In fact, I much rather my man to spend that two hours in the gym rather than spending that two hours drinking beer in the bar. And it’s okay, he doesn’t need to me around me all the time to show that he is attentive.

    On Abs showing on picture :
    Despite I love abs, I have to agree that flaunting it on pictures gives me the impression 1) he is gay 2) he is vain or his abs are, sadly, his only selling point.
    And him being vain uasually leads to him being less attentive. Although, I have to re emphasis, for him having abs doesn’t automatically make him vain. It just gives him one more excuse to be vain.

    In summary :
    It’s hot to have abs but try not to totally flaunt it in the pics. Just wear something tight/ slightly revealing and I’m sure we girls would notice you have it.

    POI:
    Despite my lengthy comments on abs, I do not think it’s the main judging criteria when it come to a lady’s decision on whether to reply or not. The face would be an important tipping point on whether we would even read their profiles. And from there onwards it’s what’s written on his message and profile that ultimately helps us decide. An attractive look, abs or not, will always be the first thing that catches most of our attention. But whether he retains our attention, I like to believe it depends on a guy’s intelligence and how he treats us.

  29. felix says:

    I’ve been on a couple of dates now with people from this site and have a good deal to say about the difference between people’s looks in photos and in person. i would be interested to hear more from the okcupid staff about their research on this.

    So, in 5 dates 3 girls have looked nothing like their photos. 1 was obviously the girl but had enhanced her looks through various means, but it was clearly the same person. 2 of the 3 looked ‘hot’ in photos and really just average in person. These two also looked nothing like their photos to the extent that they could have been different people, on of which to the extent that I actually wondered if I was being set up. I would venture to say that this is fairly typical experience.

    Now the other two were accurate in their photos or turned out to be better! It is with these two that I actually started something ‘serious’. One girl i dated for 2 years, the other for a few months. I think these are interesting and important results to look into.

    Combining the data about how to look most appealing with data on the aftermath of actual dates would really improve people’s chances of making something work, having a connection or however you would like to say it.

    It seems to me that the more accurate you depict yourself (and all this applies to women from the man’s perspective since that is all the data i have) the better off you will be. Let me explain further: of the 2 girls who were as cute or cuter, only one was very attractive, more so than avg. That’s a no brainer so we’ll leave that one alone. The other was very average looking in her photos. But, that’s ok. Despite being avg looking we still met up (she still got the date) and because I wasn’t expecting something else (i.e. I wasn’t disappointed) it worked out. This girl was not better looking than the 2 who had misleading photos, but I also didn’t expect her to be.

    Anyway, this is a small sample size so perhaps my results are atypical. When you date people for long periods of time and also date people from real life, your internet dating pool will be smaller. But, I have a feeling these results are, for the most part, common to many male daters, and probably female daters as well.

    OKCupid, can you look into this and report back? I would also be interested to participate in the study.

    Thanks!

  30. Jeff says:

    Ab shots: fitness is hot. Showing it is tacky but perhaps a necessary evil. I’d rather see an ab shot of a woman than yet another secret-overhead-fatty who rates herself “average,” or worse, “thin.”

    Overhead shot: see above regarding secret fatties. You’re not fooling me, fatties.

    Warning shots: I noticed an odd tendency to be turned off by pictures of women with a guy. Even more so with several men. Also, situations where it’s painfully obvious that your ex took the photo. Consciously, I realize this is thin grounds for rejection, but unconsciously it triggers something strong.

    All in all, I find it ridiculous the absurd conclusions we jump to based upon the content of photos. A guy on a motorcycle? Must be a reckless maniac. Holding a drink? She’s an alcoholic! Over-posing with her girlfriends? She’s a high-maintenance Sex-and-the-City-wannabe. Baseball cap? He’ll never stop watching sports long enough to ask about your day.

  31. Jeff says:

    Also, I would love to see some very basic curves on messages sent and responses received by men.

    I’ve pretty much given up online dating. I kept a spreadsheet once. Over two months, I had something like 92 messages sent with zero responses. My messages were crafted to run the gamut from simple and flirty to meaningful and inquisitive. I would like to know if this is typical. We all know that men receive too few responses while women are flooded with them, but what’s the real average?

  32. Online Forum says:

    Yeah but women are naturally more beautiful creatures so now wonder the men don’t smile :)

  33. mick says:

    I actually got no response with just a ordinary pic of my face and head shoulders shots, so i experiemented with pics of me, I had me in a suit and that got interest, then in casual clothes with others so they could see who my friends were. then i just went of rit and had shots of me jogging in my lycra bike pants and well you know and I was amazed at the response. some were just turned off but felt compelled to write, others were wanting more shots, I got riskier and more daring so i eventually sent a shot of my profile with a hard on and it was a hit I got hundreds and then i found my darling she sent her profile of her topless jumping on her bed. girls are far more daring and risky. but it worked.

  34. Nate says:

    Most of the women over 23 on dating sites are just not attractive, period. I give up on it

  35. Thomas says:

    “Most of the women over 23 on dating sites are just not attractive, period. I give up on it”

    If they were, why would they be on the dating site?

    On the other hand, hard reality is that most people aren’t very attractive and when age is starting to show, even less. That fits to me as well as to you, or the women on the dating sites.

    If that’s the only reason to search for companionship, you are on the wrong track.

  36. Sean says:

    This is very interesting. You should consider doing some multivariate analysis to tease out some of the effects of other variables. Looking at each attribute individually is interesting but you might get even more out of a regression or two. For example, looking away from the camera may have a negative impact but looking away at something interesting that might be conversation provoking could be good.

    I love this blog. Keep it up.

  37. Sonya says:

    My photos aren’t sexy. Some of them are interesting and I’m normally considered “cute;” thus, I do not receive a flood of messages. In fact, I receive quite a manageable amount of flattering and sincere messages.
    The guys aren’t hot, but they’re normally very sweet, hard-working, and genuine people.
    Works for me…

  38. Joe says:

    Well I find this very interesting. My profiles never got many interest and emails responses. I changed my picture to me smiling (after an ex g/f’s suggestion) and viola hits on match and everywhere else I’ve used it. To each his own I guess.

  39. 30something says:

    I have noticed that it is typically the less attractive, less in-shape women that have issues with men ‘showing off’ their bodies.

  40. Anonymous says:

    What’s true for the majority is not necessarily what’s true for the person, or subgroup of people, best suited for you. That fact is why I never take advice from articles like these.

  41. Steve says:

    Jesus Christ, give it a rest with this ab stuff! Visible abdominal muscles don’t indicate that a person is strong or fit. They just mean he has a low bodyfat percentage. That’s all well and good, but I’m sick of skinny little dudes who think they’re the shit because they’ve got a six-pack when they probably can’t squat 135. The dude in the black an white picture in this post looks absolutely ridiculous and I’m sure he is weak. Stop being manorexic and lift something heavy, people.

  42. HR Key Functions says:

    hehe this is a funny post; most pictures you see on the web are pics of young teenagers. Ppl above 35 are shooting with their children and ppl above 60-65 with their pets !!!

  43. Stray Bullet says:

    I guess what I’ve noticed most is cultural shift in what descriptive words for size mean. What I had always understood to be overweight is actually apparently average. And few extra pounds invariably borders on morbidly obese, if not being forced to buy two airline seats. And this has also trickled down into clothing sizes. Three years ago size 0 meant a 24″ to 25″ inch waist. Nowadays you cannot find a size 0 with a waist below 26″. The only reason I know this as a guy is my daughter is a very petite young lady and even finding size 0 that fits has now become nearly impossible. Apparently being able to SAY you wear a size 0 is more important for sales purposes than actually being a size 0.
    All of this is part and parcel of the overconsumption and entitled attitude of the American people that has led to the widespread obesity of our nation.

    I’m just saying.

  44. Guy Hughes says:

    How do I delete one Profile Picture and substitute another?

  45. angelica says:

    I know this is well after the fact, and it isn’t a comment on yr analyses – these posts are generally excellent – but could I just make one request: please, in future, don’t use the word “lame”? To draw an analogy that I hope OkCupid peeps would be pretty down with, it’s like using “gay” as a generalised negative descriptor, but it denigrates disability rather than sexuality.

  46. Adam says:

    Hi Christian, this is absolutely awesome, but the “facial attitude” charts confused me; two bars are measuring smile/no-smile and the third bar is measuring something that varies independently from that? Or is flirty-face actually a third category that can’t overlap with smiling or not smiling?

  47. E_N_F_P says:

    Ok, so this comment/retort is for all the chunky girls out there…

    One guy commented as though all the chubby girls out there are lying in wait on the internet using their “My Space Angles” photos to get their pudgey, Cheeto stained fingers on him. This seemed to me to be the same mind set of a homophobic. Well, here’s some news hot stuff, not all fat chicks would even give you a second glance…much as not all gay men want you just because you have a penis. I know that has to hurt in the ego department a little but hey, it’s true. I would also like to say to any guy retarded enough to where a “No Fat Chicks” shirt…now only does it keep the fatties away…it also keeps away anything with a vagina.

    I can proudly say I’m a chubby girl. It works for me. I’ve never, not once, met someone and had them be like “OMG you’re a fatty!”. Do you know why? I know better than to talk to douche bags who are completely superficially motived. I mean hey, you preffer girls who are willowy and slender more power to you, go get em’ tiger. But, there’s no need to talk trash about anyone with a little cushion for the pushin’. I like having, tits, hips and butt. When I get down to it in the bed room I preffer not to be having a hip bone duel. K? Thanks.

    Now, I of course know you need to be attracted to someone on a certain level to even want to entertain the idea of doing anything with them but I am proud to say that I’ve had many a good conversation with someone on OKC with no photo in their profile at all. Would I meet them site unseen? Hell no. But, can I converse with them and enjoy the exchange? Yes. You really don’t need to size eveyone up as a potential love toy in order to be able to converse with them. Just chillax. I also send messages to people just to comment or to compliment. Does it mean I want to sex them up or even speak to them any further? Nope. Just being social.

    I think a lot of people take this way to seriously. I mean WAY to seriously. I don’t think I’m going to meet Mr. Right on OKC…maybe Mr. Right Now. I enjoy the site for the social interaction and the delicious voyerism into other people’s idea of themselves…it keeps me coming back. I ligitimated enjoy people for what they are even if I find about 91.2% of them undatable.

    My profile pic guide lines when it comes to guys:

    Pic of you and any vehicle, motorized or not? Douche
    Pic of you and any female…whether you say it’s your Cousin, Sister, Aunt Judy? Douche *exception for female children under the age of 10
    Pic of you embibing any alcoholic beverage or intoxicating substance? Douche
    Pic of you on that vacation from like five years ago to whatever exotic locale that is the highlight of your life so far? Douche
    Pic of any of your sexy parts other than your face (which is where it’s at)? Douche
    Pics of you in uniform, or dressed for some man job or for a wedding? Douche
    Pic of you and your friends acting like douches? Douche *we all already know that guys act like morons with their friends, we don’t need photographical evidence

    Profile pic hotness?

    You doing something weird that makes me need to know what it is. (note: this does not included touching yourself)
    A big cheesey smile or making a fun silly face. Always adorable….unless you’re just not.
    You with a pet…anything except a reptile. Most people with retiles are creepers…maybe you aren’t but let me find out about Mr. Fuzzles the Iguana later, please.
    You eating something that looks delicious.
    You doing anything related to Guitar Hero or Rock Band…now I know you don’t take yourself to seriously.

    Anyway, good luck, kids. Have fun out there.

    Remember, OKC is not going to make or break you for being alone the rest of your life…only you can do that for you! So, get on it!

  48. chuck40281 says:

    The only reason some of those types work (such as the “Myspace” shot) is because they are deceptive. Given the choice between the picture of the fat girl that hides that she is fat or the picture that shows that she is fat, of course guys are going to prefer the picture that shows she is fat. And then, when they actually meet her, they will be very disappointed because the picture lied to them. A picture making a better impression doesn’t make it more honest, or lead to better dates.

  49. PhotoDrew says:

    I get emails all the time that say, I like your pics. But that’s because I’m a photographer and I know how to take self portrait, and I understand that I don’t have the abs, and will agree with the people who think it’s chuck full of douchebaggery. I also don’t like the myspace shot. It’s lame.

  50. Danny Roberts says:

    I feel fake pictures only take you so far in online dating. If you have plans to meet someone in real life, you might as well put up a picture that is recent and a true reflection of yourself.