Do YOU Overestimate Your Looks Compared To Other People? Take This Test And Find Out!

How do you rate your attractiveness compared to others in your age range? Are you a 7? An 8? Or even a 10?

A fascinating article on about how we rank our own attractiveness suggests that most of us are pretty bad at rating our own looks.

“Everyone can find at least one good picture of themselves. And if everyone puts their very best picture on their online dating profile (and why wouldn’t they?), then anyone trying to estimate the distribution of attractiveness using dating profile pictures will almost certainly overestimate the average level of attractiveness for people of that gender who are searching on that market.”

The author compares the online dating market to an economic market and suggests that ranking our own attractiveness is akin to setting our price in the marketplace. She concludes that over-estimating our looks in the online marketplace may lead to poor results in online dating because if we overstate our own physical beauty, then we are very likely to over-shoot our expectations for a potential partner.

Read the article here and let me know what you think.

Join our conversation (54 Comments).
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  1. 1

    Here is what I found when I owned and operated a dating/matchmaking service several years ago in the Southeast:
    When I interviewed my clients, I explained my beliefs about matching partners according to compatibility and common interests.   In theory, everyone agreed.   In practice, they looked at pictures and made their choices based upon appearance.
    Most of my clients had no concept whatsoever where they fit into the attractiveness scale and wanted the best looking of the opposite sex.   Men were more choosey and unrealistic than women.   They were also more critical of women’s photos.
    One client, who had divorced a friend of mine, stated that he wanted a woman with K’s (her name here) NOSE.   He was arrogant and obnoxious and his photo showed these traits.   He was one of my most popular clients.
    By the time many of my clients got to my service, they had paid out a great deal of money to one of the well-known chains and were disenchanted with the whole process.   I finally got to the point where I told some of the more unrealistic, demanding clients that “God creates, we locate”.
    These people wanted a combination of traits that would be beyond a 10 in appearance.   It was difficult for me to not tell them to take a good look in my full length mirror.   Matchmaking attempts in person is a very frustrating experience and I would never, never do this again.
    From my experiences, I can only assume that online, people are just as unrealistic in their dating expectations and requirements for whatever their reasons and most want more than they bring to the table.
    Even, it would be helpful if comments could be previewed before submitting for easier screening for errors.   BTW, I think you are doing a great job.     🙂

  2. 2

    I totally agree with you, it could be very frustrating, because you are offering a service which people tends to open up their minds, remember thats what you’re offering, it would be necessary that you put a lot of restrictions or rules or whatever to let people know that they have to adapt to the reality, for more difficult it seems to be it is something that on the internet we find easy to do, because you’re not relating face to face, you get to know the sentimental part first, the way of thinking, and after you get to know that, then thats when you want to picture that person as someone with good appeal, but internet is tricky, is not to be trusted, at least I wouldn’t

  3. 3

    Well I’ll restate what I said in the previous discussion.   Those of us here care enough about finding a relationship to face the unpleasant truths about ourselves and adjust accordingly.   I would say we’re in the minority.   So we keep encountering the ones who are going to keep doing the same things even though it’s not working for them.   Evan has a tough job.

  4. 4

    These people wanted a combination of traits that would be beyond a 10 in appearance.   It was difficult for me to not tell them to take a good look in my full length mirror.   Matchmaking attempts in person is a very frustrating experience and I would never, never do this again.”

    Terri, I’d be *very* interested to know how those “overinflators” broke down by gender.   I think the results would be more than a little telling (especially in the age of endless sitcoms like that Jim Belushi/Courtney Thorne-Smith thing, and “King of Queens” (even though I think Kevin James is quite cute)).

    I’m also kind of distressed you decided to quit matchmaking.    From the tenor of your correspondence, I’m sure you were quite gifted at it.

  5. 5

    I looked at 20 pictures.   I was clearly better looking than 8, and clearly worse looking than 6 and 6 others were a tossup (in my mind).   This is in line with my self perception of being a 5 or 6.

  6. 6

    The BIGGEST issue with online dating is that everyone–consciously or not–treats it exactly like any other form of online purchasing for clothes, cars, appliances shoes, etc.   They “shop and compare” always looking to see if they can find something better.   The Internet instills this habit.   The Internet gives us a world of too many options, too many choices  and so much ability to compare one thing against another.   It’s the same habit with online dating.  Click, compare, assess and if that doesn’t work continue “shopping” around.   No personal and economic risks are sacrificed here.   If you don’t find what you want, you move on until you do with a click of a mouse.   It’s cold, empty, superficial, emotionless.   People don’t “read”–they look at pictures for the most part (we all do it with whatever   we are searching for to buy/compare).   Too many people and too many choices to start “reading.”   We are creatures of habit.   You need to see what online dating really is and how little different habits are than any other online “purchasing” and comparing.   Pictures are quick and easy to see. It’s a numbers game!   That’s all it is.   People act a lot differently in the human world than in the digital world.

  7. 7

    “Everyone can find at least one good picture of themselves.”
    I’ve read Evan’s opinions about making sure all photos are great and of equal caliber (do it!), but I feel like I have photos where I look fun (climbing mountains or the Sydney Harbour Bridge) where I’ve got sunglasses or a sloppy ponytail.   Bypass?   I feel like too many “dolled up” photos (weddings, girls night outs) sends a different kind of message as well (that I’m high maintenance).
    I’ve also been truly disappointed on dates where people have misrepresented themselves when I met them in person.   I guess this follows up what I said in the last post: if a guy only has photos taken by a webcam sitting in his apt, wears a hat in every picture, or has a bunch of glamour pics that he appears to be posed in, I find it less attractive than seeing a guy hiking, dancing crazy at a wedding or holding his niece.

  8. 8

    Terri #1

    Most people post more than one photo with their profile, and I’m usually suspicious of those who don’t post more than one. For those who post multiple photos, they are generally all over the map; an individual might look much better in certain photos than in others, and perhaps because they aren’t great at judging themselves, they won’t see that. So it gives you a bit of an average in terms of their looks.  

    On top of that, you’ve got the people who post photos that are 10-15 years old.  

    I’ve had the experience of meeting a very attractive person with whom there was no chemistry, and an average looking person with a great personality that elevated their attractiveness. Even the best written profile and great photos can’t predict in-person chemistry.  

    As far as rating oneself, what sense would it make for a 22 year old to compare herself with a 62 year old on the same dating site, for example?
    Also, I find the second to last paragraph of the article a bit ridiculous. How many reasonably happy coupled people do you know are browsing dating sites and feeling serious dissatisfaction because their partners don’t seem as attractive as the people they view on-line?

    1. 8.1

      I am older, and I compare myself to the 30-ish women.   We have to compete with them, because the men look at younger women.

  9. 9

    Terri #1

    I’m curious – why do you think that your arrogant and obnoxious client was also one of your most popular?

  10. 10

    In my oppinion, women are attracted and like the challenge of “taming” an arrogant man (bad boy, Marlboro man). Now, I would not say that’s very healthy as it usually ends up in tears.
    It’ll be great if Terri could elaborate on this one.

  11. 11

    Yes, people overestimate themselves.   I don’t see why it is a big deal, unless you are a dating coach and they are a difficult client.     Reality will school them in a lack of results and a lack of happiness.     The rest of us are free not to date them.

  12. 12

    Terri #1 wrote:
    Even, it would be helpful if comments could be previewed before submitting for easier screening for errors.   BTW, I think you are doing a great job.
    As the reigning typo champion I will vote for that :).     I’ve seen some blogs that allow people to edit comments for about 15 minutes after posting.

  13. 13

    I tried that exercise and I actually ended up feeling better about myself than going into it.   Generally, I don’t try to compare myself to other people because I don’t think that is healthy habit.   However, I see the point of the article, so I tried it.   What I was surprised by was how many people had amazing profile photos and the rest almost looked like a different person.   (Maybe they were pre- and post-divorce pictures.) It sounds like Evan’s advice to keep picture quality consistent is wise.

  14. 14

    I don’t think the ‘bigger better deal’ is limited to Internet dating, though it’s more blatant there. It’s just the American ‘upgrade’ mentality.

  15. 15

    The author does say to compare yourself with others the same age. Duh – how did I miss that!

  16. 16

    If we agree that everyone else is exaggerating their looks online then isn’t it is also in our interest to do the same?   Failing to do so can result in our profiles being overlooked.   LOL!!  

    I am very careful with the pictures I post online.   There are no glamour shots because I feel that those can be misleading and no revealing shots because I am not seeking a booty call arrangement.   I have had guys say to me that I should change my pictures because they are too understated.   But I prefer if my date is pleasantly surprised than abjectly disappointed.   And while looks are important I am not interested in a guy whose only comment on my profile has to do with my appearance.      

    Having said that, I am very suspicious of persons who have only one picture posted.   And since my prospects are often long distance, I am also wary of guys who want to e-mail back and forth but refuse to Skype.     When all is said and done, a mutual physical attraction is still essential.

  17. 17

    What I’ve learned from all my years of online dating is I’m really really ugly even though I always thought I wasn’t so bad….LOL I’ve always searched the men in my area in my age(43-55) range to check out  my competition and I always say to myself who are these women emailing back and dating? Most of the men’s profile’s are horribly written with pics that leave a lot to be desired quality wise and attractive wise.I see a lot of attractive women but I don’t see their male equals/counterparts.If I WAS an attractive  45 yr. old woman I wouldn’t email any of them!….LOL What do I know??

    I’ve also asked many women if they ever search the women in their area/age range etc….just out of curiosity and 99% of them say they never do or have. What about the women on here,have you before this article?

    1. 17.1

      Yes, online dating has alot to do w/ MARKETING, IMO. If a big manufacturer is launching a new, let’s say laundry detergent, of course they are going to study the competition & see where they can get a niche in the market. If someone is going to invest $40 a month to join a PAY SITE, I’d say they were STUPID if they did not research the various sites 1st. In my experience, 99% of the ads sound the same, many of the usernames are not descriptive, & many of the pix inappropriate (pets, children, group shots where u do not know WHO is the person u will be writing to, blurry pics, old pics, pics from far away, sunglasses/hats obscuring the face, headshots ONLY [u won’t be dating a floating head that is dis-embodied, will u ?] glamour shots, etc) Plus we have people of both genders saying things like “My friends tell me I am funny” well of course ur friends will tell u that- if u r FUNNY WRITE A FUNNY AD- in other words: “SHOW ME DON’T TELL ME!” So I made sure to observe the ads & not make the same mistakes when writing mine & used very recent pics, both head & body shots w/ the dates attached to the pics. I did get many emails telling me that my ad & pix “stood out” or “was different”! Mission accomplished!

  18. 18

    To JB #17, I am interested in men aged 44 – 57. I am 50. To be honest, it’s v-e-r-y unusual for me to find an attractive man online in this age group. If he also has a fairly well written profile, then I’m doubly surprised. I have participated on numerous sites and scanned hundreds of profiles and I have experienced the same results at each site. I can only think of one man who completely fit the bill ~ attractive, a witty and well written profile ~ and naturally, I suspect he was bombarded. 🙂
    In general, men do not post their best photos. A lot of them are out-of-date, poorly lit, taken with a cell phone or their shirt off, holding up a giant bass or showcasing their prized vehicle, sloshing an alcoholic drink, etc. I often put more emphasis on their words, and it’s really hard for most people to write a great profile that’s honest, not negative, creative and informative. That’s why Evan’s profile service and others are such a great resource.
    I do not search other women’s profiles because I am not interested in seeing how I compare. I am confident in the beauty that I have always been blessed with and that’s enough for me. 🙂

  19. 19

    @JB – nope. I don’t really consider other women “competition”. Even if someone is smoking a “10”, they might not be my type. I might not be their type. I look at profiles where the people are definitely attractive but have some other deterrent – nothing in common, not interested in having kids ever, etc.

    I just finally did this exercise and think there are a lot of nice-looking women. There were a few who could have put up better pics, or more variety of pics, but that is really my opinion. What a guy likes is probably different.

    I also wanted to post that okcupid does this thing where they send you an email if someone “rates” you 4 or 5 stars, with a photo grid saying “One of these people ranked you 4 or 5 stars”.

    Of the 9 men in the photo grid, this is by far the WORST profile photo collection I have ever seen:
    Photo 1: Man in baseball cap looking at a dog, making a frowny face.
    Photo 2: Man completely obscured by flash as he shot straight into the mirror.
    Photo 3: The ONLY photo with somewhat attractive guys… yes, GUYS. 2 of them.
    Photo 4: A chubby guy with a girls face leaning against him.
    Photo 5: A man wearing sunglasses holding a fish, top of the head chopped off, but not the beer belly.
    Photo 6: Guy in a sweatshirt with arms crossed, glaring at the camera.
    Photo 7: Looks about 45-50, bald, not smiling.
    Photo 8: Looks 50+, overweight, bald but wearing a baseball cap.
    Photo 9: Bald, baseball cap, completely in profile. The way his body is standing he is either fishing or throwing a ball.

    I’m not going to bother logging in and guessing tonight who found me attractive…

    1. 19.1

      I have to disagree, also with Diana below. I want to see the pictures that show the real person. Will I move on, yes! But isn’t that the point? I can’t stand ballcaps or shirtless guys in public. So do I want to book a date with the guy who does that but dresses up just for his match pictures? No, that is a recipe for disaster.

      Likewise, I put up realistic pictures of my everyday self. I’m not very good in pictures (unanimous opinions on this) but that’s how it goes. Only maybe a 5 in real life anyway. I once exchanged emails with a guy, on match, who told me my secondary pictures – 5 yrs old! – should be up front. Sigh.

      So if I guy thinks his best bet at gaining interest is a picture of his car or motorcycle, well that just tells me a lot about the person up front. Hint: what I want to see is if you are a grumpy guss or if your smile reaches your eyes regularly; if you are wearing a cap against the sun, smart, but put it in the secondary pictures, I really don’t care if you are balding; topless or swim photos – pass!!! (fyi – that’s more in line for sites for other guys…)

  20. 20

    What I thought was interesting in the OK Cupid research was the estimate of physical attractiveness in the opposite sex.
    The result of thousands of men judging and rating the attractiveness of women was a normal distribution curve of rating values.
    This shows two things:
    1. Beauty is NOT in the eye of the beholder. There was a very high level of agreement on who had average looks and who was ‘hot’.
    2. The men were perfectly capable of assessing female beauty by reference to all other normal women, and NOT by comparison to media representations of beauty.

    What was more fascinating was that when the women rated the mens looks there was a very skewed curve, with most of the men being rated as less than average. The very attractive men were given high marks, and everyone else low marks.
    This confirms the findings in the freakonomics study.
    Perhaps women are affected by contrast effects, but not men

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