Continuing with the blog series on Tinder we pick up where we left off last. We’re now going to examine Sara’s decisions as she uses the Tinder app and see if we can get any insight into her thought process from data obtained from biometric instruments.
Setup of Experiment
Sara (alias for female participant in the study) is a young 24 year old white female. She is upper middle class and is serial dater. She agreed to participate in this study under the condition that her real name and identifying information be withheld and because “it sounded fun”. This experiment took place on a Saturday during peak activity hours for young people. After hooking up all manner of biometric equipment in our lab to her. A single goal was assigned to her – “you have 18 mins have as much fun as you can, behave as you would if you were on Tinder at home”. Our goal was to see if we could collect data that would provide insight into Sara’s mate selection process and to see online dating and the courtship process from her point of view. Showcasing each biometric instrument for the examples below would make for far too bulky of a summary article. So instead we’ve chosen to present the findings in condensed manner and showcase observations with eye tracking data. In a later blog post we’ll discuss the other data in detail.
Methods used to verify observations
The data collection from the biometric instruments allowed for additional sources of verification for our observations. In addition asking Sara follow up questions about key parts of the experiment that we had a hard time verifying proved useful. Thankfully she was very open during the experiment and was open to discussing her personal thought processes afterwards as well.
Things that will make your profile picture less appealing:
As men we sometimes make the mistake of making assumptions about the sexual strategy employed by the opposite gender. That is we assume that women are looking for the same things we are and it is this mistake that leads to failure in online dating. The men who were nexted by Sara made the mistake of assuming that their GSSS was universal. It is best to learn from the mistakes of others, so that by their loss you gain invaluable experience. Below are observations of common mistakes men made that made their profiles less appealing.
1. Don’t have lonely looking profile pictures – unless you’re a male model don’t have pictures where you are the only thing in focus/frame. Have interesting objects, persons, and things in your photo. If your profile picture doesn’t tell a story or lead to inquiry then you’re doing it wrong. Give the female observer material she can use in her imagination of you. Lonely pictures warrant no imagination and will not get attention. As men we make the mistake of assuming that as long as we look attractive in our pictures that is all the female observer needs to accurately judge us. Women need to be able to imagine who you are as a person, what your status in this world is and above all they need to believe that you’re someone whose worth their time.
The decision process in figure 1 is almost immediate he gets nexted in less than 3 seconds. Sara recalls after looking back at this particular face.”He doesn’t look interesting, he looks sad.” He was nexted not because he was unattractive but because he looked lonely. If you’re a guy reading this, pay attention. Women do not rate on appearance as highly as men do, they rate higher on social status than men however. If this photo was taken from a further distance to include more in the scene he might have done better, but the world of online dating is an unforgiving one.
In figure 2 the message that I assume the guy wanted was to send was related his profession. Exactly what his profession is was lost when Sara viewed it. She nexted him, to understand why she nexted him lets look at the last thing she sees before hitting the ‘X’. She sees he is wearing brightly colored safety vest that people who do manual labor often wear. Looking at the background of this picture there are buildings that look like they could be related to oil extraction. This guy could have very well have been loaded financially. But in Sara’s eyes “he looks like a construction worker, I don’t find that attractive.” He was nexted because the message he was trying to convey wasn’t clear and what messages she was able to pickup didn’t interest her enough to investigate further. The mistake made in this profile is miscommunication of the message from one gender to the other. Make sure the message you are sending in your picture is clear and simple, filter your profile pictures through female friends before actively using them.
In figure 3 the guy in the profile picture is alone, the picture doesn’t invoke any emotions and there is nothing left for the imagination to build on. He is staring awkwardly away at something with a facial expression that looks like he’s constipated. The mistake here is improper application of photography techniques in an effort to produce a more striking profile picture. Whatever the picture he had in mind was he clearly missed it. Lesson to take away is to have professionally taken pictures for online dating. Employ a photographer they will absolutely know the best tricks and angles to use for the best photograph outcome.
In figure 4 you have to just feel sorry for this guy. He just doesn’t put any effort towards his profile picture, the message he conveyed to Sara was “Lonely, Creepy, Weird“. The speed at which she made her choice makes this even that much more sad, notice she doesn’t even look back at his face before pulling the trigger and moving on to the next guy. She was so thoroughly disgusted with this guy that she didn’t bother taking a second glance. Don’t upload pictures that could be interpreted as threatening or uncomfortable to the female observer.
In figure 5 the guy is taking a picture of himself at a gym with a tablet. And then a picture of himself under what appears to be a bunk bed. His posture seems abnormal like its forced, also he has an uncomfortable to look at facial expression in every picture. Nothing in his profile pictures leave the observer wanting more, when asked what messages were conveyed Sara said “Creepy, Scary, Loser.” The lesson to take away, try not to scare females with your profile picture. There is a difference between manly and brute.
In figure 6 it might not be apparent at first but there is two different guys getting nexted. The first one of the man with hockey gear on and red sweat pants and the second of a guy with a Mohawk. The first guy is trying to showcase his sports affiliation but comes across instead as a man slouched down looking defeated and alone. The second guy has a picture of his face from a profile orientation and nothing else. Again lonely profile pictures lead to undesirable results. Both choose really shitty profile pictures as first impressions. Always lead with your strongest photo first, these two guys were leading with weak photos that didn’t catch the attention of Sara.
In figure 7 the guy made the mistake of assume that girls are looking for appearance first and thought leading with a lonely looking headshot was a good idea. Sara recalls “I don’t know he just wasn’t interesting” there you have it guys, uninteresting profile pictures are bad. Unlike men women are looking for a story, they’re looking for something to grab onto mentally. The mistake the guy made in this profile picture is putting fort a low amount of effort towards presenting himself through his photo.
In figure 8 we see the same issues that we saw in figure 7. The issue with this profile picture is that first the picture is grainy, second its a poor headshot, third it looks lonely and last it leaves nothing for the imagination to work with. In this guy’s profile picture he has a literal frown on his face taken in what looks like a bathroom stall. Don’t showcase weakness in your profile picture, nothing is more unattractive than a defeated man.
In figure 9 we see a older man with some jacked up teeth who thinks his appearance (which is well in decline) is all a female observer needs to make an accurate judgement. Guys don’t do these headshot selfies that scream loser, weirdo, and lonely! Sarah recalls “He looks creepy and weird.” As an older man he could have benefited from showcasing more status instead of appearance.
In figure 10 one thing is not like the others. You have fancy looking cars in the background and a overweight guy with lose fitting clothing, does he look like he belongs in the picture? Does he look like he owns those cars? again put some effort into setting up shots that look believable. He had the right idea which was to convey status and wealth in your profile picture but his execution was what lead to failure.
2. Don’t make it hard to see your face – If your face isn’t visible and there is nothing noteworthy happening in the picture then don’t expect to grab the attention of a female observers. We take in a lot of information in from the face, imagine meeting someone for the first time and being unable to see their face clearly. You’d have an incomplete first impression. Its the same thing with profile pictures if your first profile picture has issues with face visibility its going to lead to undesirable results.
In figure 11 the face is shown in an awkward angle that makes it hard to read. Notice how the face is looked at again before the ‘X’ is hit. Facial cues are so important, usually the very first thing you look for in a profile picture is a face. When your brain doesn’t get a good representation of what its looking for it tends to be unhappy. You can see Sara trying to find facial detail in this picture and being unable to find anything good to view. As a result she just gives up and decides to move onto the next guy.
3. Don’t have a profile picture where its hard to tell who you are in the picture. If its not immediately apparent who you are in your profile picture then expect confusion from the female observer. Nothing is worse than having to try to guess at who the person is.
In figure 12 there are three guys, can you tell which one the tinder profile belongs to? In this figure Sara mistakenly assumes the profile belongs to the guy on the far left with the large biceps. When in actuality the profile belongs to the guy in the middle. Imagine matching up with a girl on tinder only to find out she thought you were one of your friends who you took a picture with. Its a simple enough error to prevent. The solution is simple, if there are any group pictures do not make them the first picture that is shown in your profile.
In figure 13 you can see the confusion in Sara’s eye movements. She is attempting to figure out which one of the guys is the one who is the owner of the tinder account. She eventually nexted this guy (whoever he is). When asked why she nexted she said “I couldn’t tell which one he was and didn’t feel like looking at the rest of his pictures to find out.” On tinder there are a ton of guys to swipe through, Sara can afford to be more selective. This means that even if your profile is redeemable after looking at sub pictures if your first picture doesn’t grab the attention of the female observer she may very well just move onto the next guy.
In figure 14 the same problem that we’ve seen above is visible. Three guys and not a single clue as to which one the account owner is. She just chooses to continue onto the next guy rather than invest resources into figuring out which one of the guys owns the account.
Figure 15 is taken in public. Notice that there is a single Musician in the middle but there is another Musician in the foreground. Sara is confused as to which one is the owner of the account so she just continues on. It would have been a safe assumption to assume the first guy in the middle is the owner of the profile but she didn’t like the uncertainty and decided to just move onto the next guy.
Figure 16 has two men in a car both wearing sunglasses and both with similar facial structures. She instantly nexted them as a result of confusion over which one is the tinder account owner.
In figure 17 we have a group of 3 guys and 2 girls. Sara instantly nexted them for the same problem she faced with the above profiles in this category.
In figure 18 has four men who appear to be at a weeding and no clues as to which one is the tinder account owner. Sara instantly nexted them as a result.
4. Don’t have a higher quality male in your profile shot – He might be your bro, but if he has higher sexual market value than you – girls will branch swing away from you and towards him.
In figure 19 something very interesting happens. The profile belongs to the guy on the left and Sara is swiping through his pictures and mid-swipe she notices a far more attractive sibling sitting on the couch and this causes her to stop. Having a more attractive male in your profile picture doesn’t help you, be mindful of this.
Now that we’ve identified basic profile picture patterns that can be avoided for better results, we can move onto showcasing the opposite. That is showing profiles that lead to right swipes. In the next blog post we’ll cover in detail exactly what makes Sara aroused and show a similar set of profiles grouped together in categories that provide insight.