OkCupid Does The Math: "The Mathematics Of Beauty," Part III

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"If someone doesn't think you're hot, the next best thing for them to think is that you're ugly."

It's a wild claim, but it's the conclusion drawn by OkCupid's latest study, "The Mathematics Of Beauty." We reviewed the data gathered from the experiment in two previous posts (you can find them here and here), so let's get straight to everyone's most burning questions:

"What on earth is going on here? And what does it mean for me?"

The first question can be answered using game theory. We're presented with a paradox: when some men on a dating site think a woman is unattractive, other men are more likely to message her, and when some men consider a woman "cute," other men show less interest in her.

Game theory explains the paradox like this:

  • A man who is interested in a woman has less competition for her affections from men who are not interested in her.
  • Believing that other men are not interested the woman, the man will begin thinking "Perhaps she's feeling lonely and unappreciated because men aren't pursuing her. I have a greater chance of connecting with her because my competition is so weak."
  • That man would therefore have increased incentive to send her a message, because the odds of it being received positively are higher.

  • On the other hand, a woman who is universally considered "cute," but not "hot," is likely to appear more in-demand than she actually is.
  • To the average man, she is attractive enough to create the impression that many other men are interested in her, too.
  • Some men will decide to take their chances and send her a message anyway, but many will think that the competition is too strong and will chose to move on to someone else they think they have a better chance with.

It's difficult to make a change to your overall level of attractiveness, but this theory can be used to your advantage in other ways. The key to success, according to this study, is to create variance, a difference of opinion regarding your attractiveness. In Christian Rudder's words: "Take whatever you think some guys don't like - and play it up." Think of the Suicide Girls type - tattoos and piercings aren't for everyone, but some people love them. People with body modification know that it makes them unique, show it off, and don't are if some people don't like it. And it gets them lots of attention.

You don't have get "Mom" tattooed on your bicep or pierce your eyebrow to get dates, but the principle is the same. Browse through the profile photos of any dating site, and you'll see countless pictures that are taken to hide a trait that is supposedly undesirable or unattractive, like a angle that disguises a large nose or a cropped photo that only shows the face of an overweight person. But if the OkCupid research team is right, "we now have mathematical evidence that minimizing your 'flaws' is the opposite of what you should do." Display the mole on your face or the embarrassing tattoo you got when you were drunk with pride! The men who aren't into your look will increase your chances with those who are, and the ones who do like will fall for you even harder.

To find out more about this online dating service, you can check out our OKCupid.com review.