This is especially true for dating practices, which have been revolutionized by the internet and translated into huge business with millions of users each day logging on to online dating sites in search of potential mates.
While online dating is popular, and is certainly an efficient (and anonymous) way to sort through potential mates from the comfort of one’s own home, it may not be quite as reliable as it seems given the recent evidence for sequential dependencies when judging rapid sequences of faces.
The observation of rapid sequential dependencies in face perception raises an interesting question about the way we judge the attractiveness of unfamiliar people who post profile pictures on online dating websites.
In this context, users make sequential, dichotomous decisions about whether a face is attractive or not based on a brief glimpse of a profile picture.
We designed a binary task mimicking the selection interface currently popular in online dating websites in which observers typically make binary decisions (attractive or unattractive) about each face in a sequence of unfamiliar faces.
In this paper we adapt the rapid sequence task to ask a question about mate selection pertinent in the digital age.
(B) Bar graph of main results, averaged across subjects (N = 16; error bars = ±1SEM).
Horizontal dashed line indicates general attractiveness (mean attractiveness score for all faces averaged across all subjects).
In the centre is the [t − 1] inter-trial effect, an assimilative effect whereby the attractiveness of a current face is higher when preceded by an attractive face, and lower when preceded by an unattractive face.
On the left is the [t − 2] effect, showing a weaker but still significant assimilative effect (t = 1.48, p = 0.16, paired two-tail t-test).