Photo (cc) by Don Hankins
Shakespeare writes that a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. But now, science suggests a name can make or break the chances of online dating leading to a real-life date.
Researchers who reviewed 86 relevant studies in psychology, sociology, and computer, behavioral and neurocognitive sciences concluded that in the world of online dating, a screen name can be as important as a photo or headline. Their findings were published in the scientific journal Evidence-Based Medicine.
“The researchers wanted to find out what approaches would maximize the chances of converting online contact between men and women into that all-important first face-to-face meeting, using published research on the art of attraction and persuasion,” reports the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s EurekAlert.
Perhaps the most critical characteristic of a screen name is that it starts with a letter in the first half of the alphabet, researchers found. As EurekAlert explains it, several measures of success, like educational attainment and income, are linked to names higher up the alphabet, and search engines sort names alphabetically.
EurekAlert reports that other screen-name tips that emerged from the research include:
- Avoid names with negative associations, such as “Little” or “Bug.”
- Aim for something more playful, such as “Fun2bwith,” as this type of name is universally attractive.
- Take gender into consideration: Men are more drawn to names that indicate physical attractiveness, such as “Blondie” or “Cutie,” while women go for names that signal intelligence, such as “Cultured.”
The researchers also suggest tips for your photos, including:
- Post one photo that features a genuine smile that crinkles up the eyes and possibly a tilt of the head.
- Women seeking men should wear red, as this is likely to boost the level of interest.
- Group photos showing other people having a good time in your company, preferably with you right in the middle of the action and touching someone else — but only on the upper arm — will help to convey your friendliness, importance and status.
- Women find a man more attractive when they see other women smiling at him.
Michael Lasky, co-author of “Online Dating for Dummies,” also suggests asking someone you trust to review your photos before you post them online to ensure they don’t send the wrong message.
“You’d be amazed at how many bad pictures there are out there,” Lasky said on Match.com. “I’ve seen guys who’ve posted photos with their ex-girlfriend standing next to them, whited out. A woman who posts a picture of her kissing a pixie dog is saying, ‘You are going to compete with a dog for my affections!’ Many women who don’t have kids post photos of themselves holding babies, which suggests you’re a single mom. Nothing wrong with that, of course — but you need to post a picture that portrays you accurately.”
Headline and profile tips:
- When it comes to the headline message, don’t use complex language in the belief that it will make you look more intelligent. It won’t. People are naturally drawn to words that are easy to remember and pronounce, and ease of information processing increases likeability.
- Steer clear of fiction in your profile: Apart from anything else, written information could come back to bite you.
- Provide a 70:30 ratio between who you are and the things for which you are looking.
- Likeability is more attractive than academic achievement.
- A profile that appears genuine is more likely to generate interest.
- Men are drawn to physical fitness in women, while women prefer bravery and risk-taking rather than kindness and altruism in men.
- When it comes to another helpful ingredient, humor, “show, don’t tell,” is the advice. A wittily written profile is likely to be far more successful than just saying that you have a sense of humor.
Evan Marc Katz, a dating coach and author who found his calling while answering phones for the online dating service JDate, takes the “show, don’t tell” advice one step further. He encourages people to also show they’re unique by sharing stories in their profiles.
“Show you’re funny or down-to-earth by sharing a story about a time you were one of those things,” he said on Match.com. “This will help fill your profile with lines that are so unique they could only be written by you, and that will help you stand out from the crowd.”
As always, be aware of online dating scams. Watch this video we did about that a while back. Also check out Is Your Online Love Interest Putting Your Money at Risk?
Have any words of wisdom for online daters or experiences of your own to share? Leave a comment below or on our Facebook page.