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Online Dating: Women Pick Out Attractive Men From Written Profiles

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ATTRACTIVENESS
A woman doesn't need a photo to judge if a potential date is attractive; she can tell by how confidently he describes himself in his online dating profile. | alamy

It's always tempting when you're creating an online dating profile to use a photo that makes you seem ever-so-slightly hotter than you are in real life. But if you are a man, that photo may not matter so much: a new study suggests that women can pretty accurately gauge a man's level of attractiveness based solely on how he describes himself.

Psychologist and Villanova University Associate Professor Rebecca J. Brand asked 50 women to judge 100 online dating profiles for men between the ages of 22 and 25 from an online dating site. The catch? The women were shown the men's photos and written profiles separately, then asked to judge the profile's author or the man in the photo on traits like confidence, sense of humor, masculinity and overall attractiveness.

The results -- which will soon be published in the journal Computers In Human Behavior -- found that women didn't need photos to discern which men were attractive; they could tell based on the confidence level the men displayed in their writing. Brand writes: "Our data suggests that attractive individuals wrote texts (profiles) that conveyed confidence, and it was perhaps this confidence which primarily signalled quality to the women." She adds, "Such confidence may arise from attractive people’s general sense of their high mate-value."

The idea that attractive people have a leg up over their average-looking competition is nothing new: it's been shown that attractive people make more money, and the results of a 2010 study led by Timothy Judge, PhD, of the University of Florida, suggests it may all goes back to -- yes -- confidence levels. His team of researchers analyzed data from the Harvard Study of Health and Life Quality -- a national study following 191 men and women between the ages of 25 and 75 over time -- and found that "even accounting for intelligence, a person's feeling of self-worth is enhanced by how attractive they are and this, in turn, results in higher pay."

But it's also been noted that while confidence is a sought-after and sexually desirable trait in men, it's less appreciated in women, at least according to research results published in the May 2011 issue of Emotion Magazine. The study, involving 1,041 subjects, examined the relative desirability of three traits: happiness, pride and shame, and found that while confidence was judged to be the most desired trait in men by women, it was one of the least desired trait in women as judged by men. Men were more attracted to a woman whose predominant trait was happiness.

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