If you're like me, you've definitely been swiping through Tinder on a Friday night and come across someone who either A) seems way too hot to be real or B) has pictures that look like they were taken with a Nintendo DS. A new study by researchers at the University of Connecticut aimed to find out how "enhancing" your online photos might change people's perceptions of you and discovered that the results were different for men and women.
The study had 305 heterosexual participants between the ages of 17 and 36, who were placed into an opposite sex condition and then randomly assigned to view one of four profile pictures of the same male and female. Of these pictures, some had been "beautified" (better lighting, makeup, and hair), while others were more "normal" (satisfactory lighting, no makeup, and no hair treatment). The participants then answered a series of questions to determine the profile's attractiveness, trustworthiness, and the participant's desire to date them.
Unsurprisingly, the females who viewed the "enhanced" photos of males found them to be both more attractive and more trustworthy, perhaps because so often men online have poor quality photos, which makes them seem sketchy or otherwise undesirable.
On the other hand, while males did find the "enhanced" photos of women more attractive, they were also more wary of them, probably because of the possibility that they are a "catfish."
"Trust is an important part of any relationship and it certainly plays an important role in the forging of new social bonds in the dating context. Yet, we found an interesting relationship between attractiveness and trust for males who were viewing female profile pictures. Specifically, men typically found the more beautified and therefore more attractive profile to also be less trustworthy," McGloin said. "This finding provides an empirical highlight to the concept of cat- fishing and the larger phenomena surrounding online dating, in which it is both normal and acceptable for individuals' to mislead or deceive their potential suitors."
Despite reporting a lower level of trustworthiness, the men still desired to date the women in the more attractive photos, meaning they were willing to take the risk of being catfished in order to pursue dating a good lookin' lady.
For men, a more attractive woman seems more likely to be fake, but apparently attraction trumps trust (go figure); for women, a better looking profile picture means a man is both more attractive and less likely to be a creep or catfish.
So yes, this is yet more evidence that your photos on dating apps matter, so if you can't score a date, maybe it's time to get rid of the grainy selfies and consider hiring someone to take a professional headshot of you.