Your online name begins with the letter S? Loser! At least that’s what researchers from Queen Mary University of London say after completing their systematic review of online dating. If you're tired of scrolling through profiles and getting no response, their research indicates, you need an attractive photo, a quippy headline, and an online profile name beginning with a letter between A and M.
To discover the most effective approaches for wooing a potential bed buddy, the researchers analyzed studies in the expected fields of psychology, sociology, and behavioral science, yet also in the unlikely domains of computer science and neurocognitive science. Culling from nearly 4,000 published papers, the researchers found a mere 86 that met their strict inclusion criteria. After synthesizing all the findings, the researchers came up with a few pointers, dos and don'ts if you will, for online daters who are tired of waiting.
Name, Pic, Headline
The researchers start at the beginning with your choice of profile name. Surprisingly, this is more important than most anyone would guess.
“Starting a screen name with a letter in the top half of the alphabet is surprisingly important — because several measures of success, such as educational attainment and income, are linked to names higher up the alphabet,” Professor Khalid Khan, who led the research, said in a press release. (Could this be a personal bias, Mr. Khan? Possibly, but then he provides a much better reason for sticking to the top half of the ABCs: “Search engines sort names alphabetically.”
Men searching for women prefer names indicating physical attractiveness, such as "Cutie," while women searching for men go for names signaling a greater portion of gray matter, such as "Cultured." According to the researchers, the dark horse screen name "Fun2bwith" has universal appeal, but the same is not true of "Little" or "Bug," two names people seem to dislike. (Medical Daily guesses "Gimpy" and "One Arm" also would be rejected by the masses.)
Next is the all-important photo. Do not limit yourself to selfies, as group pics indicate that people might actually want to hang around you and it's possible to have a good time in your presence. Remember, too, that women find a man more attractive when another woman is smiling up at him. One final hint for the ladies: “Women seeking men should wear red to boost the level of interest,” Khan says.
At last, we come to the text portion of your message in a bottle. Complex language in a headline message is a turn off to one and all. You want to increase your likeability score, and people prefer words that are easy to remember and simple to pronounce. “Individuals are pursued or ignored based on a quick perusal of the profile,” write the authors, who explain this doesn't mean you should talk entirely about yourself. “Provide a 70:30 mix of who you are, and what you are looking for,” Khan explains.
So what traits should you mention in your profile? Hetero men are drawn to physical fitness, while hetero women think bravery and risk-taking trump kindness and altruism. It is always better, the authors say, to show rather than merely describe your sense of humor.
If by some good luck you manage to overcome this initial hurdle and someone actually makes contact with you, the researchers suggest you keep things short and sweet and humorous in any exchanged emails, chats, or webcam conversations. “Plan for a positive termination of every chat,” says Khan and his co-author. “We recall items at the end of an experience far better than those at the beginning or in the middle.”
To end, Khan provides a time-honored tip: "Rhyming poetry has an instinctive appeal." (In your dreams, buddy, in your dreams.)
Source: Khan KS, Chaudry S. An evidence-based approach to an ancient pursuit: systematic review on converting online contact into a first date. Evidence Based Medicine. 2015.