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The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures

I came across a very well written article online by OK Cupid called “The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures” it interested me greatly as the author had diligently looked at 7000 dating photos, analyzed much data, and seemed to find 4 myths about the way that people think about profile pictures, the article goes on to say that much of our collective wisdom about profile pictures is wrong, notably that:

Profile picture myth 1

It’s better to smile

Profile picture myth 2

The MySpace Angle Is Busted (Photographs shooting from overhead down)

Profile picture myth 3

Guys should keep their shirts on

Profile picture myth 4

Make sure your face is showing

Now let’s be clear from the beginning where they got the data from:

“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”

Now let me make it clear that our dating  & profile photo company specializes in helping people who are usually older than the 18-25 year old daters, the only reason I’m writing this post is that I’ve had a few people who are over 25 ask me if this advice applies to them and I don’t think it does, there’s a world of difference between dating in your twenties and thirties, forties and fifties! I think that OK Cupid did a pretty good job of collecting this advice for a certain kind of person in their 20’s

Perhaps a more accurate title for the article would be:

The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures for people who live in big cities, with only one profile photograph, between the ages of 18 and 32 who only look average

OK I know, I’m joking, and if it were a paper researched by Doctors or Teachers then it wouldn’t be published with such a title, but let’s not dismiss this article yet!

I had a customer who asked me why I wasn’t following this article, they wrote that “My profile pictures do not follow the advice given” and wanted to hear my comments. Now I respect their privacy so I’ll keep my reply private, what I will say though is that they did, live in a big city, I’d guess were between the age of 28 and 32, although I believe they didn’t quite fit the profile as they were definitely very good looking and wanted to post more than one profile picture

The article defines success for women and men alike based on the number of responses that they got…

Now many of us have dated online and had many, many responses, yet somehow I was left feeling that the number of responses is a slightly empty number. If your profile pictures are attracting the wrong sort of people then success cannot be measured by

numbers alone, if I post a profile picture online and  get lots and lots of responses by people who I feel aren’t a match, then I’m failing (rather than winning as the numbers suggest). There are often issues created by statistics, interpreted by the reader “out of context” they become meaningless or worse give a false impression.

Again I’m not attempting to trash data that was diligently collected in a professional way, just showing how people can read an article and possibly get the wrong idea.

Let’s look a little deeper into these myths- and please only read on if you live in a big city, with only one profile photograph, between the ages of 18 and 32 and look average

Profile picture myth #1:It’s better to smile

The article goes on to say that men and women have very different approaches to the camera~ that women smile more than men and make more flirty faces, that looking happy and making eye contact for online dating photos isn’t good advice, that women get the most messages by flirting with the camera and that men’s profile pictures are most effective when they look away from the camera and don’t smile.

Now here’s where I get to thinking, even if I was an average looking 18-32 year old, big city dweller with just one profile picture, would this be good advice for me? Hmmmm  for me personally NO…Women with flirty faces irritate me, and always have done, and I spoke with a few woman (over 25 ) who definitely don’t want a guy who looks away and doesn’t smile, (They commented that people who look like this are often self-absorbed or hiding something (Perhaps bad teeth) and they would avoid them)…for some people these photos are definitely a deal breaker!
My point is that for this advice to be helpful you have to be attracted to girls who make flirty faces or mysterious guys looking away!

Perhaps the article title should now change to:
The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures for people who live in big cities, with only one profile photograph, between the ages of 18 and 32 who only look average and who like girls with Flirty faces or mysterious guys

Just kidding…

The real question you should be asking yourself is “who do I want to attract? If you think your ideal match wants to see you looking flirty or mysterious then this is exactly the sort of advice that you should follow, but if you want to attract other things in a person then perhaps a different

approach for profile pictures will apply! If you like to smile then smile-looking confident and how you want to look is important.

In summary not smiling may work if you’re younger, but there’s still a lot of opinion out there that says  to avoid it, (example Kurt Inman wrote an article called “Run Away from these 5 bad dating Dating photos” where he gives advice to avoid people with profile pictures who don’t smile, his valid opinion is “I ‘m not talking about a huge grin here. A real smile makes anyone look very attractive. I’ve seen people scowling, glaring, on the verge of tears and staring at the floor in their photo profile. How can you think this would be attractive to anyone?”, now I know many of you won’t agree with him…but many of you will (Especially the 28+ crowd!)

Profile picture myth #2:The MySpace Angle Is Busted (Photographs shooting from overhead down)

The article says thatThe universally-maligned “My-Space 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.” 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 pictures”

Now this doesn’t surprise me, if you take a profile picture looking down on someone then they often look better, I agree with this article that these kinds of shots when done right can be very effective, many professional photographers take photos from above for this very reason

The only time I disagree on using “My Space angle” profile pictures is if they are used to hide the body!
Let’s imagine this scenario, a girl wants to post only photos of her from overhead-down; her logic is, this way only her face and boobs show, and lets imagine it’s because she’s overweight and doesn’t want anyone to know until they meet her on a first date (She’s hoping to make a connection so that she won’t be judged on her size)
Now I hold nothing against anyone for being thinner or larger (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again-I do believe that there’s a body type out there for everyone) but if this girl doesn’t show her body in any of her profile pictures then one of two things will happen; One- people will look at her profile pictures and get  suspicious and think she’s hiding something OR Two-she’ll mislead someone; I remember a date where I’d seen my dates’ attractive “My Space angle” profile pictures and invited her on a date when I met my date she was 100lbs heavier, so yes she got the date through the pictures, but would she get another date? I don’t think so!

Profile picture myth #3: Guys should keep their shirts on

Here’s a summary of this myth; The male “Ab shot’ profile picture is an Internet cliché that everyone thinks is only for bozos. Yet the data contradicts this ~ 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 and 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”

Now I’m a little confused at this point, earlier in the article it says “We then lopped the most and least attractive members of the pool, fearing that they would skew our results”, and so I’m curious as they can’t recommend this tactic to every man does this make the statistics difficult to accurately interpret!

Again should the real question to ask yourself  be “who do I want to attract? If I think my ideal match wants this then this is exactly the sort of advice that I should follow, but if I want to attract other sorts of people then perhaps a different approach for profile pictures will be needed!

Perhaps the article title should now change to:
The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures for people who live in big cities, with only one profile photograph, between the ages of 18 and 32 who only look average and who like girls with Flirty faces or mysterious guys and who think that abs are important

Just kidding again…

Here’s some other really good points the article makes:

“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.

“For women, shots that show breasts get attention…A message like “Hey nice rack” isn’t really gonna lead anywhere, and isn’t very valuable to the recipient”

“the value of being conversation-worthy, as opposed to merely sexy, cannot be overstated”

I agree that whatever your age, location or attitude this is good solid advice…


Profile picture myth #4: Make sure your face is showing

Now I was as surprised when I read that “The facts were stubborn and 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.”.

I laughed out loud when I read this and laughed out loud again when I read:

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.

Do I need to say more…
So in conclusion thank-you OK Cupid for taking the time to research and write this report, it’s definitely a great start in serving people who are online dating, and aren’t sure what do do when choosing a profile picture~ I hope that when you read this you’ll enjoy my comments on your article and I hope I made you smile too!

For readers of this post~ Both Online daters and Matchmakers alike, If you have additional questions about this article or anything else on effective, profile pictures please reach out to me via LookBetterOnline Facebook or Twitter, I’m interested to hear what you have to say.

Dating online? The most important thing you need to know…

Having a great photo is the single most important thing you can do when dating online, so visit LookBetterOnline and find out why more than 98% of our customers get better dates, and see how we can help make your online dating experience successful and more fun than you thought possible!

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Comments (1)

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    Prashant Biradar


    good one…


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