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In general, women really are pickier than men — listing smaller ranges in their preferences for age and ethnicity.Women also initiate and reply to contact less than men.However, these fixed choice descriptors allow users to triage by easily weeding out those who don’t meet their dealbreaker criteria for a partner (Fiore et al., 2008).Researchers believe that users make up for the lack of information in online profiles by filling in the blanks with guesses based on small pieces of information.(Although feminine male photos were seen as attractive, whole male profiles were rated more attractive when they seemed more masculine, a perplexing result worthy of more study.) Women were deemed more attractive when they looked feminine, high in self-esteem, and not selfish.This study also found that the narrative self-descriptive sections of the profiles played a key role in attractiveness, but the fixed choice sections of the profiles (where users have to pick from a specific set of descriptors, i.e., “Have children now,” “Want children someday,” “Don’t want children,” smoker/non-smoker, etc.) only minimally affected attractiveness ratings.In a study that looked at online daters across the lifespan, even older men “sought physical attractiveness and offered status-related information more than women” and women continued to be the more selective gender (Sears-Roberts Alterovitz & Mendelsohn, 2009).In a nine-month study of participants on a dating site in 20, Andrew Fiore, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues examined stated preferences and actual messaging behavior (Fiore et al., 2010).
Men were considered more attractive when they looked genuine, extraverted, and feminine, but not overly warm or kind.In a 2005 study, Fiore and Judith Donath (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) examined messaging data from 65,000 users of a United States-based dating site.They found that users preferred sameness on all of the categories they tested (a variety of features from child preferences to education to physical features like height).But, with a particularly compatible partner, more information led to more liking.For online daters, this means that a very detailed profile might attract fewer, but more compatible suitors (Norton et al., 2007).