Tinder’s scientific flaw: You can’t tell if someone’s hot from photos
Tinder, Facebook and Instagram are full of hotties.
But those looking for love could well be doing themselves a disservice by relying on pictures to pick out partners.
People often find potential dates far more physically attractive after an in-person interaction, a new study from University of Kansas confirms, with those deemed less attractive in photos benefitting the most.
“Using physical attractiveness to sort people to date is a bad strategy,” says researcher Jeffrey Hall.
Hall’s study involved a test group that viewed and rated photos of 10 potential partners. The subjects then met one suitor they’d just rated, had a 10-minute conversation, and re-rated the group once more.
The second set of ratings regularly saw an improved rating for the person who’d been met in real life, with those deemed less attractive gaining the most additional points.
“Two characteristics played an important role in whether the rating changed,” Hall explains.
“One was social attractiveness, which is whether we think we could be friends. It’s not sexual attractiveness or romance, but likability. The other was combined sense-of-humor or being-a-fun-person measure.”
In short: if you’re friendly and fun in real life people are more likely to fancy you, regardless of appearance.
“You stand to gain a lot by getting your foot in the door,” Hall adds. “Physical attractiveness is not fixed; it’s malleable.”
(Hall didn’t see the same increase for people with attractive photos: “There’s a ceiling effect,” he explained. “You can’t get much better.”)
Too much choice
Two other test groups surveyed, also suggest that it’s unhelpful to have so many romantic options on offer.
These groups did not rate their partner before interacting, but one group still pre-rated 10 photos of other individuals.
Rating other partners ahead of a meeting was found to decrease the enjoyment experienced during the real-life interaction, and have a negative impact on your perception of the partner’s personality.
“You reduce your evaluation of your conversation partner because you saw more attractive choices that you think you could have had,” says Hall.
“It makes your in-person experience worse. ”
Most people will know from experience (on Tinder, or otherwise) that a ’10’ in a photo does not necessarily equate to someone being a ’10’ in real life.
Now Hall’s study suggests you’re probably ruling out a whole load of ‘would-be 10s’ because their photos just doesn’t do their real-life attraction justice.
Considering swiping through any photos before a date is likely to make us enjoy it less, perhaps we should ditch online dating altogether?
A hottie in person is worth two in the proverbial bush.
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