Online dating site OkCupid has a lot of members - and that means a lot of profile pictures. Based on data mined from 7000 of those pictures - looking at facial attitude, photo context and the amount of skin showing (yes, really), the site claims to have busted a bunch of the most popular myths about profile pictures.
Firstly, smiling and looking into the camera - interestingly, the results are different for men and women. Women who smiled or made "flirty-face" directly into the camera did best, whereas men looking away from the camera and not smiling - looking wistful or troubled or mysterious or something instead - met the most women.
Secondly, against all the odds it turns out that taking a "MySpace Shot" with your phone or your webcam actually helps considerably. Women with a picture of this nature met on average 15.5 new contacts monthly, compared with 8.5 for women "having fun with friends", 10.1 for women in bed, and 6.7 for women "posing with an animal". So get Rover out of the picture, ladies. Drinking alcohol was also a no-no.
Next - and you probably could have predicted this - if you have, shall we say, "bodily assets", then you should show them off. Ripped abs and bountiful cleavage scored rather well with the opposite sex.
Showing off muscles gained men 8.9 women met per 10 attempts, slightly less than being pictured with an animal (9) and plenty more than with alcohol (4.5) or a travel photo (4.4). If you've got a six-pack, then don't be afraid to show it off - men without shirts met 8.9 women per 10 attempts, compared to 5.9 wearing normal clothes and 5.7 who were dressed up.
Cleavage on ladies scored well, as you might expect - more interesting, though, was that the older you are, the more a little cleavage will help. Cleavage on 18-year old girls gave them a 24% boost over ladies of the same age covering themselves up, whereas it gave 32-year old women a whopping 79% advantage.
Lastly, you'd imagine that showing your face in a picture probably a good idea, right? Wrong. Whether you show your face or not seems to have absolutely no effect on the amount of messages that you get. In fact, if you're doing something interesting or unusual instead, that can often prove even more effective.
The full gory details of the survey are on OkCupid's blog, complete with all the bar charts, scattergraphs and - yes - example pictures, that any man or lady looking for love could want. If you're in the market, go take a read - it could help you find the person of your dreams.