If you want worthwhile messages in your inbox, the value of being conversation-worthy, as opposed to merely sexy, cannot be overstated.
We used to think that the one iron-clad rule of Internet dating photos was to at least show your face.
All my bar charts are zeroed on the average picture. 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.
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.
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?
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.
from the camera is the single worst attitude a woman can take.
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..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. 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.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. 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. To wrap up our cleavage discussion, let’s assess the of messages the cleavage-showers are getting.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 In terms of getting new messages, the My Space shot is the single most effective photo type for women.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.A message like “Hey nice rack” isn’t really gonna lead anywhere, and isn’t very valuable to the recipient. We didn’t go through anyone’s inbox to do this; we mathematically modeled a “conversation,” based number of messages back and forth.We looked a level deeper and analyzed what resulted from the incoming contacts. And we discovered the following: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 Ok Cupid’s male population.