Brian Handwerk from The Smithsonian understands that in the age of internet dating apps like Tinder, there's a little bit of deception that goes on. A trick of the lens here and a slight cropping of an image there, and you're more apt to get a date. Your photo speaks to who you are, but what is your profile picture saying about you as a potential mate?

Rory McGloin, the co-author of a recent study, illustrated how much value we place on these pictures before we decide to move forward:

“You look at a picture of someone and all of a sudden you're making judgments about what their personality is like, what their values are, whether you want to go on a date with them, or even maybe spend the rest of your life with them. And it's all based on one picture.”

In the recent study, which consisted of about 300 heterosexual volunteers, researchers found men and women see different things when looking at a photo on a dating site.

Researchers noticed a trend forming fast between the two genders. Men who were given an image of an attractive woman with enhanced lighting, hair, and makeup agreed that the female in the photo was beautiful, but rated the image as less trustworthy. However, women would rate similarly doctored photos of men as both more attractive and trustworthy than the same un-enhanced photos.

McGloin commented:

“It seems that the women were placing faith in the attractiveness of the males. It's almost hopeful, as opposed to the fellas who may have taken a more kind of realistic approach.”

But what's interesting is that people seem to accept this deception behavior as part of the process and even admit to doing it themselves.

What's more, even though the men rated the enhanced photos of women as less trustworthy, they still reported a higher desire to date them, as compared to the more “true-to-self” photos they were given.

As OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder explains, analyzing the anonymous data from dating sites explains a lot about human nature. For example, men pursue relationships at a four-to-one ratio and why our outlook on race may not correspond to how we think we behave. 

Read more at The Smithsonian.

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