How to be more attractive: 10 insights from the founders of OKCupid



Yes, math nerds can teach you how to be more attractive

A lot of people know about the online dating site OKCupid. What many people don’t know is it was built by four Harvard trained mathematicians who wanted to build a compatibility algorithm based on survey questions. So they’re very focused on data.

Singles have been mingling on the site for over a decade. What can all the behind the scenes number crunching tell us about how to be more attractive?

In an interview for the book The Art of Doing: How Superachievers Do What They Do and How They Do It So Well, the site’s four founders offered a lot of insight into what works.

What the data says about how to be more attractive:

  • Ask a prospective date if she likes the taste of beer. If the answer is yes, she is 30 percent more likely than women who say they don’t like the taste of beer to sleep with you on the first date.
  • …your profile photo needs to start a conversation. If you’re playing a guitar up on stage, then we know something about you. You’re in a band. Now, we have a conversation: “Oh, you play guitar? I do, too.” If you’re standing in front of the pyramids of Egypt, someone can say, “Oh, I’ve been there.” Now you’ve got something started. Our statistics show that profile pictures of people actually doing something interesting lead to a much higher quality of contacts.
  • Getting people to kind of like you is a waste of time. You’re looking for the two or three people who will love you as you really are. If Dungeons and Dragons is your thing, you want that person who will say, “Oh my god! You love D and D? I do too!” And the same goes for your photo. We see so many images that are designed to minimize some supposedly unattractive trait, like the close-cropped picture of a person who’s overweight. Women with tattoos and piercings have an intuitive understanding that when they show off what makes them different some people won’t like it, but they’ll get lots of attention from the men who do. We have mathematical evidence that men will message women that they believe appeal only to them before messaging women they believe will appeal to everyone. 
  • If you could have one lie, age might be the one to go with. It can help you avoid being filtered out… If you’re an older woman in the singles’ scene the odds are not in your favor. But here’s the good news: according to our research, attractiveness trumps age. So, if you’re attractive, you’re still fine. You might think that once you reach a certain age you should look more sophisticated, but we’ve found that older women who wear provocative clothing in their photos get more messages. 
  • We’ve found with photos, using flash skews your attractiveness to that of someone seven years older, so go for natural light.
  • The most successful pose for women is the MySpace angle, holding your camera above your head and being coy. Women flirting into the camera get the most messages; women flirting to someone off camera, the least. The cleavage shot garners women 49 percent more contacts, and the ratio goes up with age to 79 percent for 32-year-old women.
  • Best pose for men is mysteriously aloof, unsmiling, looking off camera. A 19-year-old showing his abs gets twice as many contacts, but the rate falls off sharply for older men.
  • When it comes to messaging, reply rates plummet for misspellings, bad grammar and Netspeak. And, general compliments like “awesome” and “fascinating” have much higher reply rates than physical compliments like “sexy” and “beautiful.”
  • There are a few common lies to look out for. The more highly a picture is rated attractive, the more likely it is out of date. Eighty percent of self-identified bisexuals are only interested in one gender. Both men and women inflate their income by 20 percent.
  • Three questions tested above all others in determining if you and someone else have long-term potential are: “Do you like horror movies?” “Have you ever traveled around another country alone?” and “Wouldn’t it be fun to chuck it all and go live on a sailboat?” If you find someone that answers all three the same way you do, the two of you might just belong together.

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