The 4 Big Myths of Profile Pictures

To write this piece, we cataloged over 7,000 photographs on OkCupid.com, analyzing three primary things:

  • Facial Attitude. Is the person smiling? Staring straight ahead? Doing that flirty lip-pursing thing?
  • Photo Context. Is there alcohol? Is there a pet? Is the photo outdoors? Is it in a bedroom?
  • Skin. How much skin is the person showing? How much face? How much breasts? How much ripped abs?

In looking closely at the astonishingly wide variety of ways our users have chosen to represent themselves, we discovered much of the collective wisdom about profile pictures was wrong. For interested readers, I explain our measurement process, and how we collected our data, at the end of the post. All my bar charts are zeroed on the average picture. Now to the data.

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