Meeting potential love interests has become less about prolonged eye contact across the bar at cocktails or witty banter in line at our corner coffee shop, and more about how our looks and personality translate to a digital screen. When looking to meet someone new, there's hardly any immediate chemistry or charisma to set yourself apart from the crowd anymore—there's just a handful of photos and a few hundred digital characters to call your own.
Consider this: How many times do you imagine you've "swiped left" on someone that you would be thrilled to meet in person, but their profile photos were sub par? An even better question: How many times has someone "swiped left" on you for the same reason?
When it comes to online dating, it's difficult to know how to put your best foot forward; all potential suitors can see are a few photos, a short bio, and a handful of your interests. To make the stakes even higher, research also shows that we pass judgment about someone within a split second of seeing a photo of them for the first time. But if you're looking to up your online dating game, a new study found that other people are actually better at selecting profile pictures of you than you are.
What Are We Doing Wrong?
The study, which was led by a group of researchers at UNSW Sydney, suggests that our inability to accurately view our own appearance, and the tendency to view ourselves in an "overly optimistic light" could be responsible for the study's findings. "When it comes to choosing the best version of ourselves, it may be wise to let other people choose for us," says David White, Ph.D., the lead author of the study.
The experiment asked 102 students to choose two out of 12 potential photos that they would most likely use as a profile photo for social media, dating sites, and career networking sites. After selecting images of themselves, they also did the same for others who had previously participated in the survey. The researchers then took to the internet to see how strangers perceived these photos. In the end, the researchers found that the images not chosen by the individuals themselves were deemed more "attractive" or "professional" than those the individuals personally selected.
How to Put Your Best Foot Forward
“Our findings suggest that people make poor choices when selecting flattering images of themselves for online profile pictures, which affects other people's perception of them,” says White. Although further research is needed to discover exactly why this is the case, it may be in your best interest to poll your friends before adding a photo to the dating app you just downloaded. "If you want to put your best face forward, it makes sense to ask someone else to choose your picture."