Hot Or Not Decisions

In these days of Photoshop, the old phrase “the camera never lies” is no longer to be heeded. Except, perhaps, before we set about playing with pixels. At that point we stare at the screen and ask ourselves why the bathroom mirror is so much kinder, even if we can’t describe it as flattering.

Images, whether Photoshopped or not, are an important feature of all on-line dating sites. OK, there is the list of interests etc., but the photo is the focus.

Apparently, there is a strong suggestion in the literature that there is a marked discrepancy in the attractiveness ratings of individuals based on video clips compared to static pictures. The suggestion is that the video images provide greater depth and richness to our assessment of “like ” or “dislike”.

Now, of course, you need a whole studio facility to modify a video sequence so maybe the richness can be outweighed by reality. Rhodes and a large team from the U of Western Australia decided to put this to the test and get a definitive answer as to whether static and video images were at odds in depicting hot chaps (1).

In their experiments, the lab rats were 58 females in the 17 - 35 age band and they were asked to rate static images and short videos of 60 heterosexual men also in the same age band. The male attraction rating ranged from 2 to 8 out of ten, but there was absolutely no difference between the static image assessment or the video image assessment.

The team also rated the mating success of the guys and found that it positively correlated with their attractiveness rating. In other words, hot guys scored.

The final conclusion was that the videos didn’t do anything in terms of assessment difference, and this was probably due to the girls making an instant appraisal of how hot the guys were. This of course fits in nicely with Gladwell’s conclusions in his book “Blink” in which he proposes that we make our minds up very quickly with the minimum of information. Probably an evolutionary trait when we were deciding if that big new beast was fierce or friendly.

  2. M. Gladwell, “Blink,” Little Brown & Co, New York, 2005.

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