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).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  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

  21. 21

    I have heard many, many times from the men I meet online that they are surprised and pleased that I actually look like my online photos in terms of weight, hair color, and age.

    Doesn’t that imply that many women ARE seeing themselves realistically and therefore posting outdated photos to hide it?

    I’m not saying it’s only women who are guilty of this. Just wondering where this fits in to the assumption that most people overestimate their looks. If they think they are “all that” why would they attempt a bait and switch?

    I DO think many people have expectations that too high. Some people expect their potential partner to have way fewer flaws than they themselves have.

    1. 21.1

      “I have heard many, many times from the men I meet online that they are surprised and pleased that I actually look like my online photos in terms of weight, hair color, and age.”

      I’ve heard that too, & in this day & age of google & selfies , I am suprised that people get away with it!  

  22. 22

    I think one of the reasons older women might look better than older men is because women have a lot of things we can do to look better that men don’t have.   We get to wear make-up — so we can cover up a lot of the effects of aging.  We have Spanx to minimizes the wiggle and jiggle and the pouch.  We wear clothes that can emphasis the good things and de-emphasize the not so good things.   I am not saying that all women wear make-up and Spanx and follow the rules of What Not to Wear.  However, I and many women do and that really does put us at an advantage over men who really come to us au naturalle.  So, I routinely go out with the kind of men that seem to receive a lot of disdain from women on this site — if he is bald, a little chubby, and graying, that’s ok with me as long as his profile is decent.   I am also pretty forgiving of people who have older photos because I know why they do it.  It doesn’t mean they are dishonest and untrustworthy per se.  At the end of the day, people just want to connect and they are doing the best they know how.  Sometimes, a little compassion can go a long way.

    1. 22.1

      Men can practice good grooming, get an updated haircut and get wardrobe advice. All kinds of men’s clothing stores offer that.   They can go to the dentist to clean their teeth, and eat a healthy diet.  They can stop smoking, and quit drinking so much beer.   We women try to get our figures in shape–why can’t men?  Spanx ain’t gonna cut it.

      I took photos before make-up, and after. I took a poll.  It was about 50% either way.  We do not always need makeup to look attractive.  I got over 100 “likes” on a social media site in less than an hour, people telling me how beautiful I am, so I do not agree that men have a disadvantage for not having make-up.

  23. 23

    @Angie #19 … In theory of course you’re not in competition with any other women because we(the men) can email ALL of you to see which ONE or MORE or NONE of you might show some reciprocal interest.The competition only comes in when the miracle of all miracles might happen and a guy is actually dating 1 or more of you simultaneously and has to make a decision in order to take things further with one of you and have an exclusive relationship.I’m sure this happens to the top 3% of attractive people online with many options/responses all the time.Any person only has so much time/energy and for men money to date so just like on “The Bachelor” someone is going to get err…”pushed aside” creating the reality that online dating IS in fact somewhat of a competition.

    @Diana #18…See that’s what I’m talking about.I’m 50 and if you looked at my profile which I can assure you after 13 yrs of online dating and being on this blog etc… is a decent profile with quality pics, (I do graphics for a living so I know how to take a pic and post it…lol)albeit somewhat generic I wouldn’t make your cut either for one reason or another beside or on top of my physical looks.

    I don’t really think we have to do a study on why all the unattractive people online don’t date each other because we know they all want the people that are for the most part out of “their league” looks wise and are in the top 2% looks,height,education,salary,job title etc……and the women will wait for years and forever for their “fantasy man” to put his profile up and email them even though they’re a “4” in looks and are divorced with 3 kids.Or the 53 yr.old out of shape man with his shirt off that puts he’s looking for women 38-48.Yes,delusional expectations are rampant on the internet.I wish Evan could teach every person(men & woman) online to be realistic… but he’s only 1 man and most don’t want his help.For the record….I email all types of women but I’m not going to email a 36 yr.old or a 60 yr.old being that I’m 50.

  24. 24

    Ok this is my suspicion- most of the people on Match don’t want to be there. I say this because, well, most people say in their profiles directly or in some roundabout way that they don’t want to be there. So, if they don’t want to be there in the first place, it’s doubtful that they’re going to take the whole process seriously, including responding to and sending out emails.

  25. 25

    To JB #23, I just want to point out that while I rarely find a man’s online photo attractive, that doesn’t necessarily mean that I wouldn’t respond to his email. I have even responded to emails where the photo was provided to me later.
    My former husband of 26 years was by most accounts, a very average looking guy; one of those that if he’d been online back in the day, many women would have passed him over. He was considered geeky, too, with glasses and pre-mature balding at age 16. But I was sort of wise for my early age in that I always looked past the exterior to look for qualities that truly mattered, and that is what I found. 🙂 He was a very good husband and father who lost his way, and made a poor life’s choice. He’s currently going through a tremendous effort on his part to understand the choice (and others) that he made, and we’re amicable still.
    So there’s always hope. Thirteen years online is a long time.

  26. 26

    I think part of it is due to the fact that we live in a society that promotes confidence and celebrating your specialness, etc. 

    If a Victoria Secret’s  model says “wear this bra and you will be just like me” women buy into it and go out in the world with uber confidence wearing their special bra that transforms them into Bar Rafaelli.

    If you look at some female ads they will start with “I’m beautiful” or “gorgeous blond”, “knock out brunette”, “girl of your dreams” whatever stunning adjective and the pic is of an above average  attractive woman (or the pic was taken 10 years ago)but not necessarily gorgeous it is based on how she feels about herself and her self confidence.  How she thinks she looks and how she feels about her looks. Isn’t that a good thing? 

    Except if she is perceived at being enamored of herself and probably not realistic in who she can attract, then it backfires.  But most women will say if you don’t promote yourself this way it means you have no confidence and it is the number #1 thing that attracts men.  I personally think pictures speak for themself and when a woman starts off with “I am beautiful, gorgeous” it is not the actual truth but her confidence talking. 

    It is the same as the man who feels he is the CEO of fortune 500 company only he is assistant manager at some fast food place.  He feels he has CEO qaulities and that is what the woman should be judging him.   The whole confidence thing.   

    I am a little bit confused the confidence movement.  Does it help or hurt?

  27. 27

    Does anyone out there have the opposite problem, meaning that they tend to date people they aren’t really physically attracted to in hopes it will somehow turn out differently?
    I’ve given so many interesting, nice guys a chance because I was hoping there would be chemistry in person, even if I wasn’t wowed by their profile pictures.  I’m thinking it’s time to get a little shallow with online dating and only go out with guys whose photos I like!

    1. 27.1
      Penny P

      MysteeBee #27

      I tried what you did and found no chemistry at all.  So, now I only contact men that I feel that I can “kiss” right away.  And they don’t have to be super good looking men.  Just attractive enough and have pride in their appearance.  I think that is what a lot of men are missing at my age (57), pride of appearance.

  28. 28

    What I find amusing, is some women posting, a cut-out picture, one that is plain to see, they cut out their last lover/boyfriend/husband.   

    1. 28.1

      Oh, I know, hunter.  It’s obvo, because it’s so easy to take a cell phone selfie!  If they cannot get a presentable foto, sumthin’s up

  29. 29

    The dating curve doesn’t do women any favors either. The concept of the 10 scale here is what percentile of looks you fall into relative to your age and location. It’s like high school: if you get a 90 on a test you’ve gotten an A. But if the that’s the lowest grade in the class, guess what you fail. You’ve earned yourself a zero. I think in major cities like New York dating is like that.
    You have a handful A+ around and there are so many single women working so hard to be attractive that you have this massive glut of B, B+ and A- (not quite model pretty but actress pretty) So when you throw up the percentile a B lands you in the 40 percentile.
    This is compounded by the wonky bell curve you have in available men. There are certainly a handfull of men that are 10s in this city. But as new york denziens can attest, there is a glut of C,D men in the city and dearth of solid Bs. So the top ladies are dating down to begin with because the A guys are too busy playing the field to do the relationship thing. So A ladies take the few B guys around leaving the glut of (40 to 70 percentile) B ladies to fight over the C and D (40 to 70 percentile) guys.

  30. 30

    Sorry Sharon @29. Please see what I wrote @20.
    Women tend to think that the world is made up of a few A grade men, and the rest are C-. Doesn’t matter where they live.
    If the A to C women hold out for the A guy, then the B guys are stuck with the Ds and below.
    I know it doesn’t feel that way, but honestly most men are going to be average – not less than average

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