Attractiveness and online dating

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Stimuli depicted are examples of photographs taken of men who consented to have their images reproduced for scientific communication.300 faces were briefly presented in a random sequence and participants made a binary attractiveness judgement about each one: attractive or not attractive.For each subject, we calculated the mean of the 10 attractiveness judgements for each face and the overall mean attractiveness for the whole set of faces.Faces with mean attractiveness less than the overall mean were categorised as not attractive, or as attractive when exceeding the overall mean.In the centre is the [t − 1] inter-trial effect, an assimilative effect whereby the attractiveness of a current face is higher when preceded by an attractive face, and lower when preceded by an unattractive face.On the left is the [t − 2] effect, showing a weaker but still significant assimilative effect (t = 1.48, p = 0.16, paired two-tail t-test).This is especially true for dating practices, which have been revolutionized by the internet and translated into huge business with millions of users each day logging on to online dating sites in search of potential mates.

Two experiments are described that explore the impact of serial dependence on face attractiveness perception in a simplified, real-world context.

The observation of rapid sequential dependencies in face perception raises an interesting question about the way we judge the attractiveness of unfamiliar people who post profile pictures on online dating websites.

In this context, users make sequential, dichotomous decisions about whether a face is attractive or not based on a brief glimpse of a profile picture.

Recent studies using rapid sequences of faces have found that perception of face identity is biased towards recently seen faces, promoting identity-invariance over time, and this has been extended to perceived face attractiveness.

In this paper we adapt the rapid sequence task to ask a question about mate selection pertinent in the digital age.

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