One of the features of science is that it tries to explain the natural world around us. “Love” – one of the most powerful of human emotions- is no exception. It might also come with the most risk. We risk just about everything for it, knowing full well that at some point, there will be suffering. Perhaps you love someone, but the feeling is not mutual. Perhaps you will never find love. You might find it and then lose it when a loved one dies. As a social species, love helps us to form powerful bonds which helps us raise our children and strengthen our social network so that we can better survive. Wars have been waged over love, people have been murdered, lives have been risked. Love is indeed powerful.
Putting aside the potential role of pheromones and biochemistry (because, after all, love and other emotions are just chemistry), the effects of appearance and personality have been studied extensively by researchers. Is science able to help those looking for ‘the one’ in the virtual space? In this digital age, roughly 91 million people across the globe use free chat rooms for singles, web services, and mobile applications to find a potential mate (or something much shorter term).
Let’s see what science of online dating reveals, and what can be directly applied to help someone find the love of their life.
In 2013 Professor Khalid S Khan, married, and a scientist at Queen Mary University, empathized with his single friend so much that he decided to research the existing data about sociological and psychological literature for online dating. Khan was interested in knowing what features made a profile more attractive than others, and what kind of a profile would lead to a date in the real, non-virtual, world.
In short, the results were as follows:
- A 70/30 proportion should be met. This means that 70% of the profile space should contain information about your personality and 30% should describe what you’re looking for
- Men primarily draw attention to the physical build of women. Women prefer brave, courageous men with a good sense of humor. Such traits such as kindness and altruism are overshadowed by these.
- Profile data should be honest, outline a positive image, and prove listed characteristics. For instance, boasting about education while having a profile littered with spelling errors will not help the cause.
- The username plays a significant role. Avoid screen names that could be considered inferior, such as “Little” or “Bug.” Since screen names are often sorted alphabetically when online sites do their automatic “matching” algorithms, it makes sense to use an anonymous screen name starting with the letters A to M.
- A sincere smile and a tilt of the head on your profile picture is seen as more attractive.
- Red clothes on women are attractive for men.
- As for group pictures, choose those depicting you with your friends having good time together. If you have a photo on which other women smile at you, do not hesitate to show it, because according to this study that picture will definitely draw female’s attention.
One of a shortcomings of this research is that it’s impossible to see whether such a profile can lead to the long-term relationship. Regardless, the findings are useful for anyone looking for love online.
Bonus: An example of a profile that was not particularly successful.
Discovery News: Online Dating Science (Hint: Screen names are key)
Evidence Based Medicine: An evidence-based approach to an ancient pursuit: systematic review on converting online contact into a first date