Picture editing programs are becoming increasingly user-friendly but a recent study suggests that editing photos may work against you. Enhanced dating profile pictures are viewed differently by men and women and where you gain attractiveness, you lose trustworthiness.
The study, conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Connecticut, concluded that enhancing profile pictures on dating websites registers differently depending on gender.
Men view enhanced photos of women with lowered trustworthiness. Contrastingly, in the case of women, edited images were viewed with both increased trustworthiness and attractiveness.
But how does this translate into the online dating context?
Trust is an essential part of the dating ritual and in the case of men viewing images of exceptionally beautiful women, being “too hot to trust” may have inadvertently lowered that woman’s chances of actually finding a potential partner.
“We found an interesting relationship between attractiveness and trust for males who were viewing female profile pictures,” Rory McGloin, lead researcher said.
The study included 305 heterosexual participants (men and women) aged 17 to 36. Each individual was asked a series of questions aimed at determining the attractiveness, trustworthiness, similarity and physical profile of the partner they’d wish to date.
Participants were then asked to place themselves into an opposite sex condition and view a randomly chosen picture of the same man or woman.
The images had been previously chosen so as to feature two distinct image types. One had been edited (including lighting, make-up, hair) while the other represented a non-beautified image.
Researchers concluded that, in the case of male participants, women with enhanced dating profile pictures were viewed as more attractive but less trustworthy as compared to the exact same woman’s non-enhanced picture.
For women, though, the situation differed. They viewed the beautified male profile picture as trustworthy and attractive.
“In our sample, attraction seems to be more important than trust,” McGloin noted.
The study suggested that even when a man suspects that a woman may look worse in real life than in her profile picture, he is willing to risk pursuing a first date. Consequently, McGloin and his team were able to highlight the “cat-fishing” concept.
In the online dating world, it is considered acceptable that men and women intentionally mislead potential suitors by artificially enhancing their physical attractiveness. For women, attractiveness had a halo-effect. If they considered a man to be attractive, any other trait was assumed to be “good as well”.
The team’s findings were presented during the International Communication Association’s annual meeting in San Juan.
Image Source: static.flickr.com
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