Keep your shirt on! The science behind the perfect online dating profile picture

Name: Tinder profiles.

Age: Ten years old.

Appearance: That’s your problem.

What do you mean? The profile picture you upload to the popular dating site is entirely your choice.

So you’re saying it doesn’t really matter what I look like in my profile pic? It matters a great deal – your dating success depends on it.

In that case, what should it look like? Tinder recommends the photo is in focus, and that you remove your sunglasses.

The passport office says as much. What other advice do you have? Choose a medium shot, from the waist up.

Should I wear a hat? That’s up to you.

Should I hold a cat? Up to you.

Should I be standing on a box? Should I be posing with a fox? Keep your shirt on.

Sorry, I’m just very keen to get started. No, literally keep your shirt on. Posing shirtless makes you look incompetent.

Really? Who says? A new study called Putting a Sexy Self Forward on Twitter: What Do Viewers Think About Sexualised White Men?

Why white men? Actually, only one white man. Study participants were shown eight mock Tinder profiles, each featuring the same person: a white guy of “average physical attractiveness” called Noah.

Ugh, not another one. Swipe left. Hold on. The different profiles were manipulated: some had shirts on, some were topless. Some were muscular, some less so.

How do you know how muscular someone is if they’re wearing a shirt? What am I, a research scientist?

Please summarise the findings of this study. Overall, women judged the shirtless man to be lower in social appeal and less competent.

Maybe that’s what he wants women to think. Men, on the other hand, judged the same profile to be lower in social appeal, but not lower in competence. Both sexes thought the shirtless Noah would be more likely to indulge in risky sexual behaviour.

Disgusting. What’s his postcode, out of interest? More work needs to be done. Future studies will hopefully focus on additional factors such as age, ethnicity and attractiveness.

I can’t wait. Yes, it’s an exciting new field of investigation.

I mean I don’t have time to wait. How do I get a good profile photo now? Ask someone else to take your picture. Studies show people tend to think they look more attractive in selfies than in photos taken by others, but strangers usually rate it the other way round.

Great. Then what? Turn slightly rightward. Research indicates that when viewing portraits, people show a preference for faces where the left side features more prominently.

Should I be playing my guitar in the photo? No.

Do say: “Smile, project confidence and don’t use any pics of you holding a dead fish.”

Don’t say: “Just be yourself – unless you’re an idiot.”

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