Do you ever find yourself swiping or scrolling through potential dates via an online dating service? Then this is for YOU.
With more than 50 million active users on Tinder we can conclude that online dating is pretty popular. In How To Rewire Your Brain For Happiness And Success we discussed one of the MAJOR consequences of having access to so many dating apps. Now, researchers conclude that when dating online, you are not able to objectively select the right partner for YOU.
Are You Able To Select The Right Partner Online?
Researchers (VU Amsterdam & University of Sydney) investigated the “sequential dependence of facial attractiveness in online dating.” Simply put: they studied if people are able to OBJECTIVELY determine how attractive they find someone when scrolling through a stream of pictures.
The researchers came to a surprising conclusion. They found that whether you find someone attractive or not, depends A LOT on the last seen picture. To quote researcher Erik van der Burg: “Our findings show that binary attractiveness decisions are not independent: we are more likely to rate a face as attractive when the preceding face was attractive than when it was unattractive.”
How Scrolling & Swiping Hinders You In Choosing The Right Partner
The scientific explanation for this is the following. When you perceive something, this is being processed in your brain’s visual areas. The activation that comes with this is NOT subsided instantly. As a consequence, this activation influences how you perceive the next image. Thus, this ‘remainder activation’ biases our perception. This means that when you rate person 1 as highly attractive you are more likely to perceive the person on the next picture as MORE attractive. Therefore, the researchers advise to take a 10 second pause after every picture in order to neutralize this effect.
Perception Bias in Real-Life Situations
Van der Burg explains that this effect also occurs in real-life situations. Imagine that you are talking to two friends. One of them would be considered as highly very attractive (above average). The second is considered less attractive. Your perception of both of them will be more towards the average: person 1 will become a little bit less attractive while person 2 becomes more attractive. Plus, when a heterosexual women is at a party with only men, not one man will really stand out more than the others.