Your Looks and Your Inbox

November 17th, 2009 by Christian Rudder

This week we will confront an unfortunate truth of online dating: no matter how much time you spend polishing your profile, honing your IM banter, and perfecting your message introductions, it’s your picture that matters most.

We’re going to look at how your photos affect both the messages you get and how successful your own outgoing messages are. We all know that beautiful people are more successful daters, but let’s quantify by exactly how much.

To illustrate the exact spectrum of looks we’re talking about here, and to put some human faces on our discussion, I want to introduce a few photos of real OkCupid users. Here are two women near the top of our range.

[show men instead]

And here are two rated in the middle.

[show men instead]

As for photos at the bottom of the curve, it didn’t feel right to write someone and say “can I use you to illustrate the concept of ugliness on my blog?” so you’ll just have to extrapolate.

The above featured users have graciously agreed to let me post their pictures, so please don’t make them regret it. Funnily enough, I had to write about a dozen beautiful female users before anyone would even get back to me. Life imitates blog!

Anyhow, I know attractiveness is far from a universal concept, but maybe keep these folks in mind as we go through the data.

. . .

We’ll start with a simple line chart. The information I’ll present in this post is not normalized because, as we’ll see, it’s interesting how men and women evaluate looks differently.

Our chart shows how men have rated women, on a scale from 0 to 5. The curve is symmetric and surprisingly charitable: a woman is as likely to be considered extremely ugly as extremely beautiful, and the majority of women have been rated about “medium.” The chart looks normalized, even though it’s just the unfiltered opinions of our male users.

Given the popular wisdom that Hollywood, the Internet, and Photoshop have created unrealistic expectations of how a woman should look, I found the fairness and, well, realism, of this gray arc kind of heartening.

Now let’s superimpose the distribution of actual messages guys have sent:

When it comes down to actually choosing targets, men choose the modelesque. Someone like roomtodance
2/3 of male messages go to the top 1/3 of women.
above gets nearly 5 times as many messages as a typical woman and 28 times as many messages as a woman at the low end of our curve. Site-wide, two-thirds of male messages go to the best-looking third of women. So basically, guys are fighting each other 2-for-1 for the absolute best-rated females, while plenty of potentially charming, even cute, girls go unwritten.

The medical term for this is male pattern madness.

. . .

The female equivalent of the above chart shows a different bias:

As you can see from the gray line, women rate an incredible 80% of guys as worse-looking than medium. Very harsh. On the other hand, when it comes to actual messaging, women shift their expectations only just slightly ahead of the curve, which is a healthier pattern than guys’ pursuing the all-but-unattainable. But with the basic ratings so out-of-whack, the two curves together suggest some strange possibilities for the female thought process, the most salient of which is that the average-looking woman has convinced herself that the vast majority of males aren’t good enough for her, but she then goes right out and messages them anyway.

Just to illustrate that women are operating on a very different scale, here are just a few of the many, many guys we here in the office think are totally decent-looking, but that women have rated, in their occult way, as significantly less attractive than so-called “medium”:

Females of OkCupid, we site founders say to you: ouch! Paradoxically, it seems it’s women, not men, who have unrealistic standards for the “average” member of the opposite sex.

Finally, I just want to combine the two charts to emphasize how much fuller the inboxes of good-looking people get. I have scaled this graph to show multiples of messages sent to the lowest-rated people. For instance, the most attractive guys get 11× the messages the lowest-rated do. The medium-rated get about 4×.

This graph also dramatically illustrates just how much more important a woman’s looks are than a guy’s.

. . .

Now let’s take a look at how senders’ and recipients’ attractivenesses affect reply rates, not just the number of messages sent.

As you’d expect, more attractive people get more replies. And since they themselves get so many more messages than everyone else, they write back much less frequently. Here’s the graph for female senders, plotted in evenly-spaced “attractiveness groups.”

And here’s the one for male senders.

One interesting thing seems to be going on here: when the best-looking men write the worst-looking women, taste the rainbow,
of self-esteem issues
their message success rate takes a big hit. The knee-jerk response would be to somehow chalk it up to hunky spammers, but we very carefully control for that in these articles, and in any event why would better-looking girls be drastically more susceptible to it? It seems to be some kind of self-confidence thing.

As we did before, I’m going to consolidate the line charts to show just how your attractiveness changes how often your messages get responses.

. . .

This post has been the preamble to the larger discussion of “what makes a good profile?” We’ve spent a lot of time on OkTrends looking at messages, and since your profile is the other important place you express yourself, we thought it deserved the same treatment.

I wanted to address physical attractiveness right at the start, because obviously it’s a huge factor in how successful your profile is. In the upcoming posts in this series, we’re going to control for attractiveness, so that we can deliver real and useful advice for all the non-models out there.

We’ll look at, among other things: what makes a good picture (is it taken outside? inside? is it full-body? a head-shot? with your pet snake? what?), what kinds of self-presentation will get you the most messages (jokey? flirty? all business?), and how much profile information is too much. Should be good.

556 Responses to “Your Looks and Your Inbox”

  1. anon says:

    What about people who are seriously looking for a solid relationship? I’ve been messaged by some guys I think are hot (or at least pretty good-looking) and not written back based on the fact that they’re either only looking for random hookups, they don’t want children or they said something realllly stupid.

  2. Dallas Dating says:

    Anon, that is where the fornula for probability matches come into play.
    Most users of these sites tend to ignore these stats and focus on superficial characteristics. If user enter the correct information in they’re profiles, you get compatible matches emailed or in your member’s area.

  3. MS says:

    Part of me wonders if the reason so many men are rated as below medium in terms of looks may have something to do with perceptions of personality influencing the ratings? It could be that women infer more about a guy’s personality based on his photo, and use that to gauge his compatibility with them. The reason I wonder this is that, as a woman, I looked at the guys who were posted who didn’t get high ratings. While acknowledging that most of them are decent looking, I couldn’t help but think that none of them looked right for me– not because of a difference in attractiveness but perhaps based on unconscious judgments about personality.

  4. Max says:

    There’s a selection bias here. It’s not mandatory to rate users, so it’s possible that these behaviors are an artifact of the process people use when they decide to rate someone or not.

    Also, you might be measuring the wrong thing. The phrase ‘your rating of her’ doesn’t necessarily imply attractiveness. I didn’t think it was asking about attractiveness until I read this post. I thought it was asking for a general rating.

    Nonetheless, this is some fascinating data.

  5. TDMJ says:

    The one point I would counter is your suggestion that women have a harsh perspective on men’s looks, as I really think it goes both ways … we all seem to be much kinder in rating the attractiveness of our own sex.

    Case in point, I’m female, and the women you’ve picked out as ‘average looking’? – I actually think are really above average …

    But I really do think the guys you’ve put forward as ‘totally decent-looking’ are, sorry to be blunt, but average or below …


    x TDMJ

  6. ZachPruckowski says:

    The part of this that I find interesting is the relatively small difference attractiveness seems to make. A girl of medium attractiveness only has to work 50% harder (sending 50% more messages) than a total hottie to get a similar number of responses. Even the least attractive females only need to send out 2.5x as many responses as the most attractive ones to get the same number of replies. Approximately similar numbers exist for men sending out responses.

    I wonder how this compares to, say, speed dating or bars (brick and mortar meeting places). I suspect that in those places, the chasm is wider – an average guy likely has to work more than twice as hard relative to a hot guy at a bar, for instance.

  7. Cosma says:

    I can’t help but wonder if this study takes into account people like me, who tend to message people in far off places off-handed jokes of comments. I often get responses just because the guy on the other end is humored by what I’ve said and wants to play along! It has nothing to do with looks, and the “success rate” is nil as we are often on opposite sides of the globe. I wonder if there are others like me out there potentially skewing the lines?!

    Also, I have to say I agree with TDMJ – the “average” looking girls were gorgeous!!! Not average by any means – that would be an incredible world, though!

  8. Mel says:

    I don’t think any of the guys listed as average or above-average in attractiveness is attractive. The guy on the far right from your office pool, though? Really cute.
    However, I don’t think I want to know how I’m rated according to the site.

  9. Karen says:

    As to the ratings of those guys: Women are not reacting to the guys’ actual physical features. They are reacting to some of the ways the guys are representing themselves. It is in their body language, in their choice of clothing, glasses, and colors. Green? Um, not *that* shade…

  10. Don says:

    In the group of 4 photos near the top, I’d say the 2 on the left are more likely to attract my attention, to get me to view the profile or msg, because the ones on the right have technical problems. Backlight glare/poor contrast on one and the other is blurry.

    Anytime a picture is artificially obscuring detail, figure there’s a reason.

  11. Kirk says:

    You should totally do the photo attractiveness test for same-sex dating patterns. There is an unrealistic importance given to looks among the gay community regards to picking partners, much much more than a heterosexual relationship. Maybe your data will help quantify the scene.

  12. JS says:

    Agreeing with the above comment about posting the stats for gays and lesbians – I imagine most of the work is in writing up the article rather than just getting the data, and personally i’d be fine with just having the graphs.

    In fact, given how many of these trend things there are, and how fascinating the results are, i’d be happy if we just got a link with the graphs at the end – if there isn’t going to be a separate article.

  13. Wade says:

    I honestly didn’t know the ratings were supposed to be on pictures alone. I’ve always taken into account the entire profile before giving a rating. In fact I exclusively do not give ratings when the profile has nothing but pictures.

    If the intended purpose of the ratings is of the pictures alone, it should be specified somewhere near where you give them.

  14. Chen says:

    I’m wondering if the message distributions (blue lines in the first figures) have been normalized?

    The message distribution of female->male seems like it could be explained simply by the fact that the best-looking women don’t bother themselves with sending a lot of messages to men, which means most of the messages are sent by the not-so-good-looking females, and they naturally target the not-so-good-looking males…

    I think you need to either normalize the message distributions, or provide data on the distribution of messages *sent* by males and females.

    Regardless, thanks for a very entertaining and enlightening blog.

  15. Shane says:

    I have to disagree on the women who found the average looking girls to be “gorgeous”, and the decent looking guys to be “below average”.. Personal preferences aside, heres something I’ve observed about society and what is considered “attractive”.

    SYMETRY + PROPORTION = ACTTRACTIVENESS (at least in the opinion of men.)

    The two women who are considered of only “medium attractiveness” were judged rightly so, according to those criteria. Heres why:

    The first woman, while I think she’s beautiful, does appear to be slightly cross-eyed. If you look closely at her gaze, they dont appear to be even.

    The second woman, while also attractive, has rather large teeth in proportion to her face. On those factors alone, they score lower in the attractiveness department. Just like many guys like big boobs, if they get TOO big, the attractiveness level starts to go back down.

    Conversely, what I’ve noticed as far as what makes a man attractive to a woman, is SAFE and YOUNG. It seems that women dont really like “men”, they like “boys” that live like men. That is to say, a slightly effeminite face, that probably looks like it couldnt grow facial hair if he tried, and a guy that while cute, looks like he wouldn’t be able to beat up his girlfriend even if he tried. I’ve noticed many, many times, that women tend to go for “safe” looking guys more than “hot” guys. The guys listed (at least the first two), while decent looking, may be “too manly” to be considered “safe” subconsiously, therefore, less attractive.

    This is just my observation. By the way, I work for some of the major modelling studios in the world.

  16. Daisy says:

    It’s discouraging to hear these stats. I was on 4 or 5 sites 4 years ago and found a wonderful husband. For the fun of it I placed my profile on the “beautiful people” site and got approved. I stayed one week and did it just for fun, it was very shallow. If you are an attractive person with a good attitude, you can pick, choose and refuse men. There are millions of them on the internet. It was fun, but it took lots of time.

    Sit down and list your priorities and do not waste anyone’s time. Do the interview process over several phone calls. Get your questions based on your priorities answered and if you are pleased, then schedule a meeting at a Starbucks. Within 5 minutes, you should know if there is chemistry. If none, be polite, stay 30 mins and talk about a mutual interest, then end the meeting by explaining that you did not have any chemistry. Be upfront and politely honest. It works!

    Have at least 3 dates a week. I promise you, you will find “Mr Right”.

  17. S. K. says:

    I just have to mention that the skew in the “male attractiveness” probably has nothing to do with what women think about guys looks, and more to do with the fact that you inform people if they get a score of 4 or 5 stars. I know that I myself have thought twice before making that click… even if it IS anonymous unless mutual.

  18. Daisy says:

    Regarding the attractiveness of the ladies. All four are attractive and above average. They look different, which is great.

    Shane, I partially agree with you. I believe women are looking for men, not boys. My attitude was that I was not going to train anyone, you must come equipped lol. We like intelligence, sophistication and men who are well traveled. As we get older, it’s even more difficult, because we won’t settle. Today, women are independent and looking for the same. We want laughter, we crave a man with a sense of humor.

  19. SilverStarfish4u says:

    I find it very interesting that while I choose my photos very, very carefully and get plenty of compliments on them, it takes me a rather long time to finally meet the guys once they have approached me, mostly via chat. Are guys really that shy about asking girls out?! Please!

    Also, what is with the guys that use their mobile phones to take their photos, and you can see their arm extended in the photo? Why is it that we women have to work so bloody carefully at selecting our photos, and these guys post lame photos of themselves and expect us to want to see, and even date them. Just silly.

    My last comment here: I find it very interesting about the guys on this site. I find them highly over-sexed, and wanting to talk about it more than ever. Why do they all seem so desperate for it?

  20. Shane says:

    Silverstarfish.. there could be a couple reasons for all your questions..

    The internet is convienent and anti-social. It’s immensely less painful to be ignored online than to be rejected in person, therefore, a shy guy is far more likely to “approach”, or contact you online than in person. It’s easier to lie, and craft the type of person you want to be, and easier to appear that way in still pics and texts. I think I type better than I speak. I’ll be the first to admit, sometimes I get shy, and stutter in person when I’m nervous. Here, I’m an articulate, well spoken badass, and a stud. (lol..)

    So for these reasons, you may even find more sleazeballs on line than in person. Remember, just because a guy is shy doesn’t mean he’s not a sleazeball. Pursuing sex online is easier- no slap in the face, no humiliating scene or words in a bar. He’s simply not responded to. No circle of friends or observers to make him feel like an ass. Conversely, many women may go to the internet to avoid those scumbags they encounter in bars.. mistakenly thinking they will find more quality people here. Well, it’s easier to lie, easier to mass spam women, and easier to take rejection online, and easier for an anti-social psychopath to appear normal and relate to people online. Logically, the real world would always seem the best way to meet a person, when you think of it.

    I have met a few nice girls from here, but (in my opinion) they were DEFINITELY lacking normal social skills. One had zero friends, the other had no life outside the internet, and the third was just hyper sensitive and suffocatingly needy.. I immediatley understood why their only outlet for any form of human companionship was via the net. I think in some ways, it can be dangerous to rely soley on the net to meet people- we need to constantly hone and develop our social skills, and this only dulls them. (Not trying to discourage users from OKCupid, just saying, its healthy to suppliment it with a dose of going outide and hanging out in public places too.)

    Daisy, I was mistaken. I didnt mean to say that women are looking for boys, but men with safe, boyish, sometimes effeminite features, because (I believe, in my observations) that women subconciously are more attracted to the appearance of “safe”, NOT sexy, and safe ends up = sexy.. While men, subconciously, are attracted to “fertile”, for obvious reasons fertile = sexy.

    And AFTER I wrote my first comment, I noticed the [click here to see men] link at the bottom of the beautiful women pics. I pressed it, and low and behold, tell me if what I wrote doesnt fit to a tee.

    “a slightly effeminite face, that probably looks like it couldnt grow facial hair if he tried, and a guy that while cute, looks like he wouldn’t be able to beat up his girlfriend even if he tried”

    I had written that before I ever saw those pics..

  21. Shane says:

    bottom line:

    Women are attracted to cute (conciously) safe (unconciously)

    Men are attracted to sexy (conciously) fertile (unconsiously)

  22. Regina29 says:

    Hey, Just wanted to thank you for all the effort you put into doing these fascinating articles on trends at okcupid!

    Personally, I find the adjective attractive completely and utterly meaningless. It is a totally subjective experience. I realize that you are using rating data here so you are trying to objectify it in some way. You need to keep in mind though, that women such as myself will only rate men I think of as a 4 or 5 and skip the rest. I don’t feel good about putting anyone down even if they never know.

    In fact most men who describe themselves as attractive, I find to be unattractive. Perhaps that is due to these men comparing themselves to the standard media norm, which I find to be highly unattractive i.e., skinny with short hair or shaved heads and wearing suits. Suits I find to be highly unattractive period! I fail to understand why any man would want to walk around with a noose around his neck! This is just bizarre in my humble opinion…not to mention dangerous, at least in Manhattan. I say this because I have worked with clients straight out of federal and state penitentiaries in NYC and they willingly shared with me in therapy sessions that they target the “suits” as they call them for muggings. Not my idea of a good experience!

    Also with the percentage of caucasians diminishing in this Country as a whole every year, I wonder how accurate your conclusions about attractiveness are in general here on this website. I don’t think they can be extrapolated to the general population as a whole (and I realize you are not making that claim.) I may be wrong but my sense is that this website has a higher percentage of caucasians on it or at least the vast majority of the men’s pictures your system sends me are of caucasian men.

    I recently had an eye opening conversation with a 32 y.o. Hispanic man who said that “American” men are into “thick” women and do not find skinny women attractive. He then went on to say that only those “European” guys are attracted to “sticks.” He went on in great detail about how “American” men want to have sex and if a man is going to have sex he would never pick a woman who is “all bones” because he wouldn’t want to “break her in half.” His view of “European” guys is that they must be terrible lovers or just not that into sex that much period. Since I was not familiar with the word “thick” as a female descriptor, he defined it as a woman who is not skinny and not huge but rather a woman who has “meat” on her bones and has something to “hold on to.”

    I’ve thought a lot about this conversation, given the fact that in 20-30 years the Hispanic population will be in the majority in this Country. I find it absolutely fascinating that he doesn’t see caucasian American men as “real men” or even as American men. He dismisses caucasian American male preferences as meaningless “European,” “wimpy” choices. It was certainly an eye opening experience for me, as a caucasian woman, to enter into his world and see through his eyes. I’m grateful that he trusted me enough to let me in.

    In a few decades, Hispanics will be the majority of the population in the US. It makes me wonder how different this Country will be then and how the standard of beauty will change.

    I know you guys are Harvard grads, so I thought I would make one last comment here about one of my best friend’s opinions on attractiveness. He went to Wesleyan with me and then on to Harvard Medical School and now is a researcher at Cambridge University in England.

    For the 30 years that I have known him, he has made the same point repeatedly. Namely, he points out that the majority of fashion designers are gay men. He believes that these designers design clothes that fit women with the bodies of adolescent boys. He believes this is because the designers are attracted to the beauty of young men. He points out that these women, i.e., tall, skinny. flat chested, etc represent less than 5% of American women. (Which roughly follows the percentage you indicate in your article… a little more than 2 standard deviations above the norm of attractiveness or “modelesque” as you term it.) He firmly believes that this “insane” standard of beauty has screwed up straight American boys and men on some subconscious level into believing that men should be attracted effectively to the bodies of adolescent boys. He is caucasian, so maybe he is more aware of the impact on caucasian men. While the Hispanic man, is from a culture where more of the women are curvy so the effects of advertising may be more neutralized by the cultural norm.

    Just some food for thought….

    Thanks again for all of your great insights!…Regina

  23. Regina29 says:

    Hi, Just one other thought. I find that most of the men IM me here, not message me. I get bombarded with messages on other sites, but here it is mostly IMs. In fact, much of the time I get 2 men sending me IMs at the same time out here and then a third will pop up that is just way too overwhelming for me to handle. Often, my browser will freeze up then too (which is another issue entirely and I end up having to restart my computer. I’m starting to think that the XP operating system can’t handle your website.)

    I have a feeling it is easier for guys to reach out to women via IMs for they can start a conversation with “Hi” instead of thinking up some kind of composition. So I’m not so sure if just looking at messages and skipping IMs gives you the complete picture out here.

    Looking forward to your next piece of mathematical wizardry!…Regina

  24. Regina29 says:

    Hi, Sorry I just thought of something else. I actually think IMing is a very good strategy for men. I say this because I will respond to them regardless of what the guy looks like. Those pictures on the IM are so small that I can’t see them very well anyway. So guys who I would never have noticed on your Quickmatch thing, I will respond to when they IM me. Also, if a guy messages me, it gives me time to look up their profile and decide if I want to respond in a way that indicates I am interested in continuing the conversation. All of this lacks the flow of having a conversation and pulls toward the superficial aspects of physical appearance rather than getting a sense of a guy’s personality.

    The trick for guys I wouldn’t have noticed visually is to engage me in a conversation that gives me a sense of their personalities. If I like a man’s personality then I can warm up to him over time…especially if I look forward to talking with him again. When I think back to my past relationships, some of my best relationships have been with men who charmed me with their personalities not their looks. So i think the more opportunities a guy can have to get his personality across in a one on one conversation, the more success he will have if he is nice, funny, smart or has some kind of cool perspective on life.

    Sorry for going on too long, Regina

  25. Randy says:

    In a Psychology class we learned that attractive people ALWAYS get a more positive response in EVERY aspect of life – right from the START. This line of research, conducted by a team of PHD candidates in Child Development Psych, showed that even small children get a better response from their school teachers if they are more attractive.

    This more positive response & interaction lead to the development of a better self-esteem and confidence that profoundly affects every aspect of the rest of your life.

    In effect, teachers need to learn how to control their own innate bigotry.

  26. ZZBottom says:

    Is there a way to find out what your own attractiveness rating is? I’d love to know!

  27. Pratch says:

    One other thing to realize is that some folks (myself included) will use the rating as a categorizing system.

    1 star = no interest at all.
    2 stars = may come back to this at some point.
    3 stars = interested but not enough to trigger the 4/5 star match message if it’s mutual.
    4/5 stars = interested and want to trigger the email.

    Sure, I put more thought into it than some, but that’s by choice. To me? I’m equally likely to rate a user I’m interested in a 3, 4, or 5. While I only give 1 to someone whom I have ZERO interest in.

    /2 cents

  28. Regina29- youre missing the point says:

    You keep going on and on with your long winded, pointless posts. Its not about understanding why YOU like what YOU like, its about understanding a GENERALITY, and TREND. Your input is not helping.

  29. langsor says:

    I just want to throw in my two-cents. I personally rate the two “average” women used for illustrative purposes as *gorgeous* (both) and the two supposedly top-rated women as”not appealing at all” (left) and “cute but kind of young and bland” (right). As for the men, I think most men are slobs, but the two top-rated ones used as examples look like “posers” to me and the “average” one hanging in the snow seems “real but hard to really see.” But as a man, I’m harsh on rating men, as suggested earlier. Then again, I’m on the older end of the OKC curve at 43. * Thanks for these great data-blogs OKC-staff, I find this stuff fascinating.

  30. langsor says:

    It’s interesting, when I consider messaging someone I do consider looks, and also a slew of other things. Mostly I read their profile essay, which I find far more important than OKC statistics or looks (with statistics coming in last place in my decision). Of course, what one really wants is the whole package. Also, when it comes to rating people, I try *not* to, unless I find them really attractive or I find their profile essay really unappealing. The middle ground I don’t rate. What this makes me interested in is the trend of OKC “behaviors” when it comes to things like rating and what kind of profile data catches people’s attention — which I think was addressed in a different blog-post “zombies” as I recall. 😉

  31. Komaneko says:

    @shadesofplum : “Alarming numbers of men who post comments here think that women who don’t write back feel superior, unable to imagine that their message may have not provided any basis for response otherwise”

    Yes, men tend to misunderstand intentions, especially if you don’t provide them any.

    And telepathy still doesn’t work on the net.

    Giving no answer because you delicately ignore a man to avoid hurting his feelings (while genuinely wishing him the best), look exactly the same as giving no answer because you just feel superior and think that no one is good enough for you.

  32. Enough With The Lies, Girls says:

    To you MEN out there: Try this experiement, then come back and try to tell me “looks don’t matter to women”. Simply replace your profile picture with that of a male model and change NOTHING else in your profile. Suddenly you’ll go from getting little to no response over 6 months, to 15-20 new responses A DAY!! Go ahead…try it…see it for yourself if you don’t believe me. I’ve even had women that rejected me on here suddenly contact me again because of my “new look”.
    To you men out there: Better wake up and face the truth…no looks = no love. Maybe you might get a girl that will settle for you but be resentful because she can’t do any better….But all is not hopeless. Lose weight, lift weights, get a tan, dress sharp. Believe me, that will make ALL the difference in your dating life. Suddenly you’ll be seen as a human being worthy of love instead of a worthless piece of shit.

  33. Kristie Chiles says:

    Cupid is so right on with this! I tried submitting my profile without photos or with older, dull photos and I got very little response. When I spiced up my look, really dressed up, took photos with several different outfits that highlighted my figure AND my personality – BAM! Instant full inbox! Amazing! It’s because guys are visual and girls want to see the package too! Pure and simple! For some really funny dating videos check out

  34. Andrew says:

    Sometimes I get an email saying someone on okcupid has given your 4 or 5 stars… rate them back and if you give them a 4 or 5 you’ll find out who it is…

    So I end up being pretty generous in my ratings for like 10 people until I find out who it is.

    Does anyone else do that?

  35. Nate says:

    I would like to see how the men in the pictures did if we knew their heights; that is… unless this research kept that variable constant. I have discovered women prefer height over appearances. As one friend told me; she would date an overweight guy but never date a short guy. This pertains to both short and tall women also who prefer tall men. Also, I did my own research and found when I change my height from 5’9″ to 6’0″, I get more emails and also from more physically desirable women.

    However, I do like the statistical research and since I’m a scientist, I say keep it comming!!

  36. Nomaed says:

    Actually, it’s been tested, and attractiveness IS universal.

  37. Kick says:

    looking forward to the “what constitutes a good profile” article. i see too many profiles of both sexes that read like a post for job applicants. i thought this was supposed to be fun, not a job interview! lol!

    (kick_keswick on

  38. Galliard Girl says:

    I’m with several other people’s responses – I never used the rating system to simply judge looks. As Quickmatch parades guy after guy with less than a 70% match for me, I just tag them with a single star. Seriously, most of the men that I see on Quickmatch are below 50% — several in the teens, even! I can understand that some randomness is nice on Quickmatch, but it still seems silly to show me so many guys who would be completely incompatible with me.

  39. c.c says:

    S.K. definitely has a point – I am extremely reluctant to give out 4 or 5 ratings to men because I know that they will be notified (if they rate me that highly as well, okay – which, not to be an egotist, they frequently do). So I have to be REALLY sure that I am interested in a guy before I rate him that way, because it’s seen as a pretty much guaranteed come-on, in my experience. And as many other women have pointed out, I rate based on personality as well as appearance. Great bio + high match rating + cute photos = 4 or 5. Average bio & match rating + cute photos, or good bio/high rating + not cute = 3. Completely offensive bio or really ugly photos get a 2, and someone with both gets a 1. If there were an OKCupid feature like Hot or Not where people were rated strictly based on photos with no other identifying info, it’d be a better way of gauging what women truly find physically attractive. (A ranking of bios, with no photos attached, would also be extremely interesting.)

  40. c.c says:

    Oh, and I really wish that Quickmatch would include things like Dating Persona test results and at least some info from “The Skinny.” I rated a guy a 4, instantly got a “wow, you’re hot and you like me!” message from him, and checked out his complete profile…to find that he had gotten a Hornivore result and was looking for casual sex. Gross. As a woman who is absolutely not interested in having kids and is not really ready to involve myself in the drama of playing Evil Stepmother to someone’s existing children, seeing people’s answers to the kids question in Quickmatch would also affect my rating. (Though, okay, you can usually spot the single dads pretty quickly, since they tend to have pictures of themselves with their kids posted.) I’m sure there are a lot of guys who would be interested in this one, too. “Wow, she’s hot! …whoa, she’s 20 and has three kids. Okay then!” I know there are tons of non-smokers who are much less likely to rank someone highly if they smoke, agnostics/atheists who don’t want to date people who are seriously religious and vice-versa, etc. If we’re supposed to be ranking people based on who they are as a whole rather than just outward appearances and basic match statistics, as the inclusion of bios indicates, then getting a better idea of that would be helpful and, I suspect, quite easy to include.

    Galliard Girl also makes a good point. OKCupid, why are you trying to match me up with guys who are listed as being 55% my enemy?

  41. Eamonn says:

    Can you do a survey of shaved/bald heads? My hairline has receded slightly and I’ve thinned out on top a little, so I shaved my whole head based on the oft-repeated claim that girls find men with shaved heads sexy (ala Sean Connery). Since doing so, the number of responses I’ve gotten from online dating sites has plunged almost to zero.

  42. napalm says:

    pre-comment. about photos. people look different in different photos, from the *same photoshoot*.
    also, women often look better irl than in photos. i blame this partially on photoshop (and other types of editing in pre photoshop era). after brushing or stamping out the photo’s detail, there’s not much left to look at.

    my intuitive reactions based on first paragraphs.
    the 4 guys from work.
    left to right:
    1 ‘disheveled’ hair = bigfat0 for ~all women.
    2 huh? seem to resemble the soap opera ideal.
    3 is balding, biggish nose, and lacks bulky build. that’s too many negatives. otoh, lack of bulky build is less critical to ‘older’ (35+) women, afaik. pic3 looks about old enough to be in range of those women.
    4 looks not so different from guy in pic2, except that pic4 is wearing ‘geeky’ eyeglasses.

    the okc ‘prettiest’ girls pics:
    i’d say 3rd pic is not super cute. the other 3 could blow holes in speakers :)

    next, i clicked the js toggle, to show okc males. 3 have very similar looks. makes me wonder if you chose these okc “tops in looks’ by ratings by other okcers? or were these pics chosen by a single person? (bi? or mono?)
    funny how okc guy pic2 looks like a mugshot (I think shot is actually from ‘passport’ photo booth?)

    PS. it’d be good if you sampled some older people’s photos.

  43. napalm says:

    Comment about message response vs ‘looks’ vs self-esteem (or more accurately, self assessment of looks?/).
    Doesn’t strong statistical results imply people have accurate self assessmnent of their own looks?

    “In the upcoming posts in this series, we’re going to control for attractiveness..”
    Does wearing a papier mache mask actually work? For some user-insight, let’s interview Pat Robertson…

  44. CJ says:

    In my experience, hot guys tend to be reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaally stupid and/or arrogant. Also, comparing beauty standards by how the opposite sex rates them says nothing. You have to consider how much work went into those photos. The guys could easily have woken up, ruffled their hair, and shot a pic. For women it’s a lot different. You’ll get called out for “looking like a man” if you don’t wear enough makeup, do your hair, or shave your legs. THAT is the discrepancy in beauty standards, and it’s very real.

  45. john says:

    this is basically why people should focus on good profile matching and spend less time worrying about photos — IMO photos are really indicative of real life looks….

  46. blah says:

    I am insulted that I was not one of the dozen asked. I would pay to find out where you guys have me ranked. Heck I would pay a monthly fee if there was a feature on this site that can let you search by ranking

  47. Matt says:

    I’d be interested to know if female heaviness and male shortness are equally disadvantageous in OKC dating.

  48. Susan says:

    It seems to me that all 4 of the women in the pictures have similar looks: All have brown hair and 3 of them have similiar hair and hair styles. I guess we know your type.
    I prefer the darker hair with olive complexion also.
    Not the same for the guys in the pictures though, each of them has a different look as though you were more random.

  49. wildlifemetafor says:

    All your stuff here is super interesting but will you ever run any of these analysis for the non straights?

  50. JAl says:

    What happens when the human race blends into a single shade and look? Will they even need to post a picture? Wow what a boring world that will be.

    Most women aren’t very attractive. Thus, what’s most attractive to me these days is if they don’t have an STD. More men need to think like myself.