Q: I know that meeting in person is the best way to get to know someone, but online interactions are becoming more and more common. How can I get my online profile to attract more attention?
A: According to a recent study, there are a few ways that you can “adjust” how attractive, trustworthy, and generally well-perceived you are in your online profile.
- In 2015, a study was published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking that examined the attractiveness and general perceptions of online profiles.
- This study was conducted in the online dating world. Various profiles were created to test what adjustments could be made to alter how dating profiles were perceived.
- The researchers pointed out that in 2014, 11% of American adults used dating sites – and the number has probably gone up since then!
- But we all know that people don’t exactly show their whole, honest self when online.
- We tailor our image to project and communicate certain ideas, traits, or styles we want others to see.
- In a way, an online persona can be a “first impression.” We all try to make ours count.
- The researchers were examining one main difference in online personas: whether the person seemed traditional/uptight, or whether they seemed open/free-spirited.
- They examined this in both male and female profiles as well as male and female raters.
- The researchers got a group of 65 undergrads to participate in this study.
- The researchers created four fake online profiles. To make sure attractiveness didn’t vary, the uptight and free-spirited versions of the profiles featured the same person.
- Male traditional/uptight. This profile had the following characteristics: from a relatively upper-class suburb in Massachusetts, had more boring interests (e.g., reading, hiking), with a relatively low number of online followers, and with a profile picture that was fully clothed in winter gear.
- Female traditional/uptight. Same as the uptight male, but female.
- Male free-spirited. This guy was from Boston, had outgoing interests (e.g., hanging out, partying, sports), and his profile picture was shirtless by a swimming pool. He had a larger number of online followers.
- Female free-spirited. Same as the free-spirited male, but female, and wearing a bikini.
- The research participants viewed one of the opposite-sex profiles randomly, and rated it on a few factors:
- Uptight vs. Free-spirited (to ensure their pictures conveyed the right message for the study)
- As they hoped, the open/free-spirited profiles were rated more open and free-spirited, while the “uptight” profiles were rated as more uptight.
- The traditional/uptight profiles were rated more:
- The open/free-spirited profiles were rated more:
- Open to experience
- The researchers had a theory as to why the uptight profiles were seen with more positive qualities overall. They suggested that it’s because those profiles seemed more honest than the outgoing ones.
- They ran a statistical method to see whether trustworthiness was the key to higher ratings for the uptight profiles.
- As they hypothesized, trustworthiness was indeed the important factor.
- What’s the take away from this study?
- It’s strange that traditional/uptight profiles were rated with higher qualities (besides being more “neurotic”).
- When a person had a “party” profile (with swimwear, outgoing interests, more urban background, etc.), the person was rated as less trustworthy.
- The trust generated by the profile was the key in whether a person was rated as attractive, agreeable, and conscientious.
- This means that you don’t have to portray yourself as a party animal to look attractive in your online profiles – in fact, this will only hurt you.
- Instead, create an honest, conservative profile and you’ll be more trustworthy to people. This, in turn, will raise the perception of your overall attractiveness.
Jin, S. V., & Martin, C. (2015). “A match made… online?” The effects of user-generated online dater profile types (free-spirited versus uptight) on other users’ perception of trustworthiness, interpersonal attraction, and personality. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 18(6), 320-327. Link: https://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/103246774/match-made-online-effects-user-generated-online-dater-profile-types-free-spirited-versus-uptight-other-users-perception-trustworthiness-interpersonal-attraction-personality