When it comes to the world of dating going online, there are a lot of new elements to consider. For example, you need to consider if you are actually talking to a real person and not a computer, if they are who they say they are, and most importantly, their appearance online. There has been some interesting research done on both males and females regarding the profile pictures of each sex and how they react to them.
The University of Connecticut conducted a study which contained 300 people, all heterosexual and between the ages of 17-36. The purpose of this study is to see how men and women differ in their approaches toward the opposite sex when they look at their profile pictures. Each sex was shown an “enhanced” picture where the man or woman’s appearance was altered by some kind of outside software, with the intentions of making them look more attractive, followed by another picture of the same person without any editing whatsoever. Difference in attractiveness, trustworthiness, and the desire to go on a date with those in the photographs were all elements that were considered in the study, and the results were quite interesting.
The majority of women claimed that they found the men in the enhanced photos more trustworthy, attractive, and found themselves more likely to accompany them on a date than those in the regular photos. However, men replied a little differently. While men did report back saying that they found the women in the enhanced photographs more attractive and found themselves more likely to go on a date with them, the men claimed that they found women less trustworthy in the enhanced photos.
I believe that both print and social media have to do with these results. I firstly say print media because of the photos shown in this type of media. On one side of print media such as magazines, you usually see enhanced photos of men with very muscular physiques, surrounded in lighting which exacerbates whatever muscle the man already has. Of course, the male physiques on these front covers are edited, but the fact remains that for most men, a muscular physique is very attainable in a natural and healthy way. On the other hand, and where the bulk of men’s distrust lies, is in the cover photos of females. The “desired” or “socially acceptable” female body is much different than that of a male. When one thinks of an “ideal” female body, an image of a thin woman with a small waist, lack of facial acne, large breasts and a large behind come to mind. Of course, not all women are gifted with such assets, and unlike their male counterparts, do not have the option of achieving them in a healthy manner. Because most men are aware that women go to extremes in order to look like they fit the “ideal body type”, it does not surprise me at all that men resulted in being less trusting of a woman’s enhanced photo, especially on something like a dating site where physical attractiveness is key.
When I say that social media is to blame, Instagram is one of my main examples. For those without it, Instagram is a social media site that allows users to upload photos and videos mainly, and use editing tools within the app to enhance their looks. This enhancing is done for “likes” and “follows”, which increase the popularity of someone’s page, which is a large self-esteem boost for some people. On Instagram, you have the option of searching for users or “hashtags”. Hashtags are words or phrases with a pound sign next to them which allows people to find certain types of photos easier. With that said, if you search the hashtag “fitness” or “bikini”, you can find thousands of these enhanced pictures of both men and women. With all these concepts considered, it is hard to believe that either women or men can trust each other at all in the world of online dating.