RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
When it comes to dating, we all know a good first impression can be crucial. On dating apps, that means coming up with an attractive bio and photo. NPR's Angus Chen reports on a new study that suggests one way to improve your chances of love is by changing the pose in your profile picture.
ANGUS CHEN, BYLINE: I'm sitting with my friend Elissa Nadworny. She's also a reporter here at NPR. And she's on the dating app Tinder, flicking through people's photos.
ELISSA NADWORNY, BYLINE: Not interested. No, not interested - too close.
CHEN: Whittling dozens of men down to a very small, very select few.
CHEN: And Elissa's handing out these judgments literally in seconds, without really knowing anything about these people. what is it about those photos that makes you swipe left or right?
NADWORNY: Oh, yeah.
CHEN: Now, tell me why you're saying yes.
NADWORNY: So he looks like his - he's about to, like, fly. Like, his arms are out. He's, like, standing on a chair or something. Yeah, I don't know. It just feels like he would be fun.
CHEN: Fun, warm, open - just because his arms are out. Social psychologist Tanya Vacharkulksemsuk at UC Berkeley says the poses we strike in these photos can really influence how people perceive us, like how attractive we seem. She conducted a study using a dating app. She had six people each make two different profiles, one where they had expanded postures...
TANYA VACHARKULKSEMSUK: Widespread limbs - in general just taking up more space.
CHEN: And one where they had contracted postures.
VACHARKULKSEMSUK: Limbs, like your legs and your arms, are held more closely to the torso.
CHEN: She found that the profiles with the expanded poses got 27 percent more matches than the contracted profiles. She thinks that's because they're sending the right signals.
VACHARKULKSEMSUK: Humans are remarkably good at picking up information in milliseconds about another person.
CHEN: And she says an expanded posture implies openness and social dominance.
VACHARKULKSEMSUK: Where that person stands in a hierarchy. Dominance also has to do with resources.
CHEN: That's pretty desirable. A lot of people want a partner with rank. But don't overdo it, says psychologist Joel Wade from Bucknell University.
JOEL WADE: Dominant behavior is attractive, but it also has to be open. If it's just dominant, it's a turnoff.
CHEN: And contracted posters may be a turnoff. But then, my friend Elissa used a photo for her profile where her arms are tucked by her side.
NADWORNY: It's kind of, like, that's who I am. I take pictures in the bathroom, so I shouldn't really hide from my identity.
CHEN: I guess just go with whatever feels right. Angus Chen, NPR News.
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