In this day and age, dating apps are pretty much the best way to meet potential romantic partners. Whether you're looking for a casual hookup buddy, a platonic friend, or the person you're going to spend the rest of your life with, they've got it all. That being said, like everything else in life, you're only going to get as much out of the dating app game as you put into it. For example, certain types of pictures are going to attract more matches than others. What are the best photos to use on dating apps, you ask? Well, luckily, a new study has narrowed it down to one type of picture.
Professor Alixandra Barasch at the NYU Stern School of Business and Professor Jonah Berger at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania found that candid photos are the most well-liked when it comes to both dating apps and social media. They chronicled their findings in a paper called “A Candid Advantage? The Social Benefits of Candid Photos" that was recently published in Social Psychological & Personality Science.
They concluded that candid photos are more likely to trigger positive responses than posed photos do. In other words, if you post that picture your friend took of you laughing at the bar when you weren't paying attention to the camera, it's bound to get more likes on Instagram and more right swipes on Tinder and Bumble than the posed picture you made your friend take of you that same night.
According to Barasch, people are more drawn to candid photos because they seem more genuine than posed ones... which, obviously, makes sense. It's hard to get a feel for what a person is really like based on a few of their pictures. It's even harder when all of their pictures are forcefully posed. A candid picture gives a quick glimpse into who they really are and, as a result, makes us more drawn to them as both friends and potential lovers.
“In some cases, viewers prefer an unvarnished picture because it seems more genuine,” Barasch explained. “People value authenticity because it feels more accurate.”
In order to make this revelation, the researchers conducted five different experiments to see if candid photos really make people more desirable friends and partners.
In addition to finding that candid photos make people seem more genuine and, thus, more desirable for dating or friendship, the researchers made one other interesting discovery throughout the five experiments. If you (like me) are way too awkward to take a cute candid photo and were, instead, hoping to fool your followers and potential matches with a carefully executed "plandid," don't bother. If people catch onto you, the plan will totally backfire.
In fact, the study found that, if people learned that you knew the "candid" photo was being taken, it would take away from your "perceived genuineness" and, as a result, wouldn't give you the same uptick in likes and right swipes.
If you want your candid photo to work, it's gotta be truly candid.
“People often assume that a curated, polished version of the self will generate the most favorable responses—that by smoothing rough edges and presenting one’s best side, others will like and want to interact with them more. But this assumption is not always correct,” the authors write in their paper.
That being said, the researchers did find that there's one place on the Internet where posed photos actually do perform better than planned photos: LinkedIn.
So, in conclusion, save your candids for Tinder and Instagram. Keep the professional headshot for LinkedIn.