There’s a lot of information out there on what works when it comes to Tinder, some of it is good, some of it is bad… but nearly all of it is anecdotal hearsay.
In order to get legit information, stuff you can rely on, we’re turning to Tinder’s closest and eldest relative, online dating.
We’ll take a look at the data from millions of online dating user profiles (it sounds boring, but it’s not!) and tell you what REALLY works. The data comes from OkCupid, a massive online dating site that does a lot of interesting tests and experiments.
Table of Contents
You can see how your profile stacks up against the best profiles in the world and also find out about a few secrets that will dramatically improve your results.
Let’s get into it!
Your Tinder Profile
To Smile or Not to Smile?
When it comes to your main dating profile picture, smiling is good, but it isn’t the optimal choice.
Because OkCupid data shows that women who flirt directly into the camera receive the most messages.
Here are the results:
For females the flirty-face with eye contact wins (green bar-graph on the left) .
And if you’re a guy, looking away and not smiling is the best thing you can do in your profile picture:
Maybe it’s the mystery that girls find attractive when guys are looking away. Whatever the case, it works.
You’ll also see something interesting in both results… flirting away from the camera is the worst thing you can do, whether you’re a guy or girl.
The “Lame” MySpace Angle
MySpace disappeared years ago, but the MySpace photo angle has been hanging around ever since.
MySpace angle – Source A selfie with a touch of the MySpace angle
A lot of people think that this photo is a little lame, but when it comes to getting the most messages, the MySpace style photo works the best:
In fact, when it comes to receiving new messages, the MySpace style photo is the best profile type for women.
Something to keep in mind: On OkCupid, users can message anyone, they don’t need to match first like on Tinder. So when the OkCupid data talks about “attracting or receiving messages”, it basically just means people are interested, which on Tinder is like”right-swipes” and “matches”. Got it? Good :)
And in case you were wondering, the MySpace angle isn’t successful because you can kind of see down the girls shirt.
The testers re-ran the experiment and excluded all cleavage shots, and the results were still the same.
Although the miraculous MySpace angle attracts the most messages, it is actually one of the worst photo’s for attracting worthwhile messages… but more on that later.
Abs and Cleavage – Good or Bad?
The ab-shot is mostly considered to be used by douchebags – it has the same lame reputation as the MySpace shot.
But online dating and Tinder is all about showing off your strengths, which includes showing off abs – so if you’re a guy with a good body, it’s actually better to take your shirt off rather than leave it on:
Of course if you don’t have a good body then taking off your shirt won’t give you the same benefit… you’re much better off taking a photo with an animal.
Interestingly though, the attraction of a six-pack wears off as guys get older:
If you’re 19, showing your abs will get you loads of attention. But if you’re 31, the abs-effect is only slightly better than normal profile pictures.
For women, the equivalent of the ab-shot is the cleavage shot… it gets attention.
In fact the cleavage shot gets 49% more attention – this means 49% more messages on OkCupid, or in Tinder terms it would mean girls who have a cleavage shot would probably get 49% more guys right-swiping them.
As you can see women tend to get less new messages as they get older (both lines trending down). However the cleavage effect becomes more beneficial as women get older – it has a 24% improvement for 18 year old women, but at age 31 the cleavage effect has a massive 79% improvement.
Although the cleavage shot attracts a lot of new messages, those messages don’t lead anywhere… well not in comparison to other types of pictures anyway:
As you can see, both the MySpace angle and the cleavage shot are both poor performers when it comes to generating decent conversations… Comments such as “Hey nice rack” are likely to be ignored, or won’t kick off many meaningful conversations.
To attract the most meaningful conversations, you should use a photo that shows you doing something interesting.
…Pretty obvious, right?!
It explains why the girl in this picture:
receives a lot more meaningful messages than the girl in this photo:
Even though everything else about the 2 girls above and their profiles are pretty much identical – same age, same attractiveness, similar profile text – the girl in the second photo will receive more conversation-worthy messages.
- If you only show “sexy” = you’ll get more matches and more messages, but less substance.
- If you show “interesting” = you’ll get less messages, but more decent conversations overall.
And if you don’t have something interesting to show then include a pet in your picture:
Having a pet in your picture will attract almost the same amount of conversation-worthy messages as “doing something interesting”.
You Don’t Even Really Have to Show Your Face
The OkCupid experiments show that whether you show your face doesn’t really affect your messages at all:
If you can pique the curiosity of others by including a profile picture that’s unusual, sexy or mysterious, then whether or not you show your face doesn’t really matter.
OkCupid says that all of the users above receive significantly more messages than average, even though the rest of their profiles are ordinary. So be interesting!
Photography Matters… A lot!
Smiling, showing your abs/cleavage, doing something interesting and using MySpace angles all affect your success with online dating and Tinder.
But there’s another major factor that you need to consider – photography.
You probably don’t think about photography details too much when you’re choosing your profile pictures, but getting the photography wrong can really hinder your success… even if you have everything else right.
Here are three factors you should consider:
1 The Type and Brand of Your Camera
The type and brand of your camera has a huge affect on how good you look in your photos:
The best cameras for taking profile pictures are on the left – these are the cameras that make you look more attractive.
If you’re wondering how OkCupid were able to make these findings, it’s because most cameras these days add EXIF data to digital photo files. EXIF data includes a lot of detail about the photo taken, such as; date, time, camera type, camera and lens settings like shutter speed. So it’s relatively easy to perform experiments around this data.
The general rule is:
Interchangeable lens cameras (like digital SLR’s) take better pictures – they make you look more attractive than basic point and shoot camera’s and camera phones.
Here’s an example of the three camera types in action with the same user as the subject:
No matter what age the user in the photo was, the interchangeable lens cameras (like the SLR) made them look more attractive than other cameras:
As you can see the interchangeable lens (digital SLR’s) made people look most attractive.
Here are the top performing digital SLR’s:
2 Camera Flashes Make You Look Less Attractive
It was found that camera flashes make people look 7 years less attractive. This is because the hard light of a camera flash will bring out all of your wrinkles and blemishes, which softer light covers.
For example: 28 year old with flash = same attractiveness as 35 year old without the flash.
3 The Focus Should Be On You
The best performing pictures (that make people look attractive) focus on the person, with the rest of the picture being blurry – like this:
This is best achieved by using the SLR type cameras discussed earlier – generally the lower aperture (f/ ratings), the more attractive the person in the photo looks.
Christian Rudder, founder of OkCupid, believes “that because the photos with the low f numbers feel more intimate and personal, they get a better viewer response.”
What to write in your Tinder bio?
People stress over writing witty and funny Tinder bios, let alone trying to make those few lines of text and emoji’s also represent their personality and what they’re looking for from Tinder.
But does a Tinder bio really matter that much? Do people read the text and emoji’s in your Tinder bio and actually use it judge you?
Well OkCupid did an experiment to find out something similar – they wanted to find out if the text on online dating profiles had an impact on how users perceive other users.
They did it by asking users to rate other users, but half of the time they hid the profile text of those other users. This meant they had two sets of data about the same profiles:
- One set of ratings for “picture and text” together, and
- Another set of ratings for the “picture alone”.
Here are the results (each dot is a user):
The results show that people rated the profiles pretty much the same, whether the profile text was shown or not.
The conclusion?… “Essentially, the text is less than 10% of what people think about you.”
It means that people don’t really read your profile text… or if they do, it doesn’t sink in because your photos that do the real talking.
And there were some interesting results from another experiment they did, asking users to rate “looks” and “personality” separately. Here are the results (again, each dot is a person):
According to the user ratings, “looks” and “personality” were the same thing. If someone was good looking, the users also thought they had a good personality.
…This might explain why male models can get away with saying almost anything on Tinder.
So if you can’t come up with a few hilarious and insightful sentences for your Tinder bio – don’t stress! It’s not going to make much of a difference – because it’s your photos that matter most.
Height is a popular piece of information that’s often used in Tinder bios of both girls and guys.
In fact a lot of girls on Tinder explicitly say they have a specific height that they’ll accept. And as Reddit user Tedador explains “this is the epitome of everything I hate on Tinder”:
And this profile:
So considering all the hype around the topic, it’s worthwhile to look at a few interesting OkCupid experiments around online dating data and height to answer two questions:
- Does height have an impact on the success of online dating profiles?
- Do taller guys have more sex?
Before answering those questions, the first thing OkCupid did was compare the heights that guys put on their profiles and compared them to the normal distribution of males in the United States…
What they found was that guys tend to overstate (lie) about their heights – something we all probably expected!
It’s expected that the height distribution of OkCupid users would be similar to that of the male United States population. But as you can see, it’s not – the curves don’t match up.
Guys are adding a couple of extra inches to their profiles. Plus they lie a little bit more as they get closer to reaching that magical 6 foot mark.
But it’s not only guys who add in a few sneaky inches, women do it as well:
And is there any point throwing on a few extra inches?
Yes… The data shows that taller people, up to a point, have more sex:
Taller guys also get more attention (messages), up to a point. The below chart shows the number of times that a person is “hit on” with new messages on OkCupid.
So in Tinder terms, it would mean taller guys get more girls right-swiping them, and therefore more matches.
But in relation to messages sent to females, shorter women get more attention.
“A 5’4 woman gets 60 more contacts each year than a 6-footer”
And here’s something interesting about tall women:
- Women who are 6 feet or taller are “hit on” less (around 1/3rd less). They are either considered less attractive or too intimidating for guys to message first.
- Those same 6+ feet women have slightly more sexual partners (compared to the 5’4 girls who receive way more messages).
Keeping those statistics in mind for a second, read the following comment from Reddit user glitter_mermaid, a tall female, and what she had to say about height:
“Ahhhhh yes – the age old complaint. Women get to ask men about their height and it’s a-okay, whereas guys are labeled rude, misogynist pigs if they dare ask a woman about their weight.
I’m a woman. I’m 5foot8 – so I’m a relatively tall woman, or at least taller than the average adult male in America. I come from a family of tall women. I have two sisters, both of whom are OVER 6foot tall. We have all used tinder. And guess what – we have ALL experienced guys losing interest in us once they discover how tall we are. So much so that I put my height in my profile to avoid any awkward conversations.”
So if you’re a guy, don’t be afraid to message those taller girls – based on the data and anecdotal evidence, they’re more likely to sleep with you than shorter girls who get more attention.
Tinder is a split-decision dating tool based mostly on pictures, so how much money you make doesn’t really play a direct role in your success.
But for some online dating sites income is an influential factor when it comes to your success, so the subject of money and dating success is worth a look.
OkCupid released this chart which shows how income effects a guys online dating experience:
(OkCupid users can enter in their income as one of their profile stats – just like entering their age or height)
They found that money matters a lot, particularly for men, as the chart shows. The higher the stated income, the more messages a guy will get (represented by the green squares).
But as we saw with height, anything that gives you an advantage is likely to be exaggerated. So it’s no surprise that both men and women tend to exaggerate the amount they earn when filling out online dating profiles:
So if you can make your Tinder profile show that you’re making good dough, it’s likely that you’ll get more matches and more messages.
Some people have caught on to this trend and showcase their wealth on Tinder to attract more attention. Some do it subtly, while others market their wealth in a more direct manner:
This guy Brandon (above) has a lot of haters:
“Seriously though, that’s the worst Tinder profile..” – Buzzfeed
“Now, you can add “some moron’s bank account” to the list, thanks to a 29-year-old named Brandon who’s somehow managed to out-do the jerk who posted his resume on Tinder by—wait for it—screengrabbing his bank statement and using it as his profile photo” – DailyDot
But based on the actions of online dating users, you can’t blame him – he’s doing what works.
Attractive people do better on Tinder and online dating, there’s no doubt about it. Looks play a huge part in the success of your dating profile, and the data from OKCupid shows it.
Attractive people receive way more messages than their not-so-goodlooking counterparts:
This chart shows the number of messages people get compared to the least attractive people – attractive people are in a league of their own.
These women were rated top of the range in attractiveness:
and receive up to 25x more messages than the lowest rated women, and still 5x more messages than women with average looks.
(Remember that messages on OkCupid is kind of the same as “right-swipes” on Tinder – it’s an indication of interest).
The two girls above are definitely cute, but personally I think that there are A LOT of girls on Tinder that are more attractive than them (check out these bios and see if you agree) – so if the girls above are getting 25x more messages on OkCupid than average girls, then hotter girls on Tinder would be getting a shitload of right-swipes.
Anyway, on to some data for men…
These men are rated as attractive:
…they receive over 10x more messages than the lowest rated men. But again, I don’t think that they’re male-model status.
So although not as pronounced as the female side of things, attractive males are also in a league of their own on OkCupid and Tinder.
The takeaway? Don’t just slap any old photos together. Ensure that your pictures are maximizing your appearance. You can do that by following our Tinder profile guide or if you use online dating, here’s a great online dating profile guide you can follow.
OkCupid experiments also take a look at the interactions of online dating users and the topic of race.
As Christian Rudder, founder of OkCupid explains, “when I first started looking at first-contact attempts and who was writing who back, it was immediately obvious that the sender’s race was a huge factor.”
Race within the Tinder environment (and most of society) plays a huge part in attraction and interaction, so it’s worth discussing and being aware of the trends.
Here is the chart result from OkCupid which take in millions of user accounts:
The chart shows “preference vs the average”. So for example, in the bottom right hand corner you can see that white women think that white men are 19% more attractive than the average guy.
As Christian explains on the blog, the major trends are:
– non-black men applied a penalty to black women
– while black men showed little racial preference either way
– all women preferred men of their own race
– but they otherwise penalized both Asian and black men
I just wanted to open your eyes to the trends with race, attraction and online dating/Tinder, so I won’t go into the detail of the race findings. If you want to find out more on those you can read the full blog posts that cover race here and here.
There are countless factors that play a part in attraction and seduction – some we’re aware of, others go unnoticed.
Some forces we’re able to control, others we can’t.
By being aware of those forces we can understand why other people make the decisions that they do, and influence them… but maybe more importantly, we can also understand the drivers of our own actions.
The profile of the tall girl without a bikini shot might not demand your attention…
Or the profile of the guy who’s under 6 feet tall with no abs showing might not stand out…
But if you take an extra moment to read their profile closely and consider some of those forces on your decision making, you might actually open yourself up to some great opportunities. Because based on what we’ve seen, the real opportunities are the diamonds in the rough that go unnoticed.
So use your newfound knowledge to your advantage: create a profile that maximizes your potential AND be on the lookout for amazing people with under-optimized profiles – profiles that you might otherwise swipe away.