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OkCupid is wrong about smiling and eye contact for male dating profile photosTL;DR: OKCupid’s study on male dating photos fails reproducibility

If you’re a guy who uses online dating sites/apps, you’ve probably heard this one: don’t smile in your picture. Better yet, don’t smile and look away from the camera.

This tip originated on the OkCupid’s OkTrends blog in January 2010. The post was called The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures.

Growing skepticism

Since OkCupid published their data in support of not smiling in pics, the tip has been quoted as gospel truth on dating advice blogs, PUA podcasts, dozens of dating subreddits, forums, everywhere.

OkCupid is wrong about smiling and eye contact for male dating profile photosBut, at the same time, widespread skepticism rose too. One Reddit commenter put it this way:

“Despite what OkCupid may say, I believe that in Tinder’s last roundup of the top 100 male profiles, basically all of them were smiling in their lead picture.”

Further — everywhere men floated the “don’t smile in pictures” advice, many women decried how much they hated these nonsmiling pictures. But, the men countered, women don’t necessarily know what they want. After all, OkCupid’s findings were based on behavior, not just talk, right?

Photofeeler steps in

This is where we at Photofeeler come in. Like everyone else, we believed in OkCupid’s conclusions. But the more data we collected about men’s dating photo attractiveness, the more it became undeniable: OkCupid’s advice wasn’t raising men’s photo scores.

At first, this realization was frustrating. We even worried our tool could be flawed. But every time we looked into this, we found the same thing: daters who used Photofeeler for photo testing were getting right-swipes like never before. In fact, users reported 3-5x (200-400%) more matches! So the opinions on our site were translating directly into behavior.

AvoidantWe decided it was time for someone to challenge the OkCupid study.

Using the massive stores of data on our platform, we set out to reproduce OkCupid’s process (as laid out by the Myths of Profile Pictures post). We narrowed the demographics of our data set accordingly, matching their 7, 140-photo sample. Then we ran each picture through a variety of analysis scripts (in our case, neural nets that detected smiles and eye contact) as well as tagged each one by hand until total agreement was reached. Finally, we used Photofeeler attractiveness ratings to gauge the success of the various photo types (smiling, not smiling, eye contact, no eye contact).

What We Found (Results/Findings)

Here is OkCupid’s study results vs. our own:

OkCupid’s data said that not smiling and not making eye contact was better.

Ours says that whether you smile or not makes no statistically-significant difference (except in the case of eye contact and no smile, which is harmful).

Source: blog.photofeeler.com