Here’s why you shouldn’t judge people too harshly on dating apps

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Elle Griffiths
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A new study has found people struggling to make a meaningful connection while dating may have their addiction to apps like Tinder to blame.

However, it’s not the apps themselves that are necessarily the problem, but how we use them. Apparently, incessant swiping increases our propensity to become obsessed with physical appearance – meaning that we could be missing out on the chance to make more organic connections.

Researchers at the University of Kansas wanted to get a better understanding of how physical attractiveness impacts online dating.

They selected 65 heterosexual men and 65 women for the study, and broke them up into three groups.

One group rated a selection of 10 photos of members of the opposite sex based on physical attractiveness. They then spent 10 minutes having a conversation with one of the people featured in the photos, before rating the photos again.

A second group rated 10 photos before meeting someone who wasn’t in any of the pictures.

Group three, meanwhile, interacted with a member of the opposite sex without looking at any photos at all.

The researchers discovered that individuals’ perceptions of physical attractiveness often increased after meeting someone in person.

Nearly all participants rated their date’s attractiveness higher once they’d spent time together in real life, especially if they had originally deemed that person’s looks to be “average” or “less than average”. 

In other words, you’re more likely to find someone attractive if you hang out in person and form an emotional connection – rather than immediately swiping left because they aren’t some sort of Adonis. 

The study also found that having an endless supply of pictures to trawl through may mean people have trouble giving any one individual a chance, as they’re constantly distracted by the idea that something (or someone) better might be out there.

Watch: The top 5 things people lie about on dating apps

Jeffrey Hall, associate professor of communication studies at the University of Kansas, led the study. He says that going off someone’s social media photos alone is not a good strategy for picking a date.

“It misses a lot of what makes for a good conversation,” he says, adding: “The characteristics of a good conversational partner change how attractive they are in your eyes.”

Instead of distractedly swiping left and right while watching TV, Professor Hall has this advice for online daters: “Ask yourself, ‘Would I really like to spend time with this person?’

“Rather than go through hundreds of photos, digest a few at a time. Slow down. Be more careful about considering who you're going to date.

“And if that person's personality is wonderful, your evaluation of their physical attractiveness will follow."

Essentially, the same advice your gran gave you: never judge a book by its cover. 

Images: Getty/Rex Features


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Elle Griffiths

Elle Griffiths is a freelance writer living in Brighton. She divides her time pretty evenly between despairing about American Politics, watching Mad Men re-runs and complaining about Southern Rail delays.