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Psychology: As attractive as the last picture

Scientific Reports

March 17, 2016

People using online dating sites are more likely to rate a face as attractive if they thought the preceding face was attractive and vice versa, suggests an initial study published in Scientific Reports this week.

Recent studies have found that when participants are asked to make quick judgements about a rapid sequence of pictures of faces, the most recently seen images are likely to be rated as more attractive than those earlier in the sequence. However, it is not clear if this bias towards more recently seen faces is true when attractiveness is simplified to a choice between attractive or not attractive, as favoured by some online dating sites.

In a task involving a choice between two options that mimics the procedure used by a number of online dating sites, Jessica Taubert and colleagues investigated how the attractiveness of unfamiliar dating profiles is judged. In two sets of experiments, 32 female participants were asked to rate 60 male profile pictures from a dating website as attractive or unattractive. In each trial a profile picture was presented on a screen for 300ms and was then replaced with a white fixation cross which remained visible until the participant rated the picture as attractive or unattractive. The authors found that pictures were more likely to be rated as attractive if the previous profile had also been rated as attractive.

doi: 10.1038/srep22740

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