Men were considered more attractive when they looked genuine, extraverted, and feminine, but not overly warm or kind.(Although feminine male photos were seen as attractive, whole male profiles were rated more attractive when they seemed more masculine, a perplexing result worthy of more study.) Women were deemed more attractive when they looked feminine, high in self-esteem, and not selfish.This study also found that the narrative self-descriptive sections of the profiles played a key role in attractiveness, but the fixed choice sections of the profiles (where users have to pick from a specific set of descriptors, i.e., “Have children now,” “Want children someday,” “Don’t want children,” smoker/non-smoker, etc.) only minimally affected attractiveness ratings.
Online dating use among 55- to 64-year-olds has also risen substantially since the last Pew Research Center survey on the topic.
Does mate selection differ when those looking are presented with an almost overwhelming number of potential partners, but limited to a few photos, statistics, and an introductory paragraph about each one? In one survey of Australian online daters, 85% said they would not contact someone without a posted photo, so physical appearance is indeed important (Fiore et al., 2008).
A 2008 study in which participants rated actual online profiles confirmed this, but also explored the criteria that made certain photos attractive (Fiore et al., 2008).
In the last few years, these methods have moved from a last resort for the loveless to a more accepted way for millions to try to meet their mates.
While this has led to dates, relationships and marriages around the globe, it has also been a boon for enterprising researchers — providing huge datasets chronicling real world behavior.