Psychologists Reveal 2 Key Ingredients Of A Great Dating Profile

Self-disclosure and originality are two elements of a captivating dating profile, according to a new study.

By Mark Travers, Ph.D. | October 29, 2022

A new study published in the academic journal PLOS-ONE encourages dating app users not to be shy when crafting their online dating profile text. Originality, openness, and fearless self-disclosure are generally well-received by potential suitors — and can help set one's profile apart.

"In online dating, the free-text component of dating profiles offers many opportunities to be original," say the authors of the research, led by Tess van der Zanden of Tilburg University in the Netherlands. "Profiles that score high on originality tend to score high on other positive dimensions such as intelligence, sense of humor, and attractiveness, as well as on people's intentions to date the profile owner."

These results square with the advice given by many dating apps. For example, the dating platform Eharmony states, "users whose profiles are heavy on clichés tend to get fewer messages and responses than those whose profiles show thought, originality, and a genuine sense of humor."

To arrive at this conclusion, the researchers selected 308 profile texts from a sample of over 31,000 real dating profiles from two popular Dutch dating sites.

They invited 775 people to read up to five of these profiles (the photos were blurred out) and respond to measures such as "This profile text seems original to me," "I would like to go on a date with this person," "I think this person is intelligent," "I think this person is funny," "I think this person is odd/peculiar," "I think this person is good-looking," "I think this person is kind," and "I could fall for this person."

They found:

  • Higher originality was associated with higher intelligence.
  • Higher originality was associated with higher romantic intention (i.e., "how likely would you be to date this person?")
  • Higher originality was associated with an increased belief in physical attraction.
  • Higher originality was associated with a higher humor perception.
  • Higher originality was associated with lower perceptions of oddness/peculiarity.

In other words, the researchers found all positives and no negatives associated with dating text originality.

Next, they attempted to understand what, precisely, makes for an original dating profile text. Relying on a team of trained profile readers, they found that highly original texts tended to contain one or more of the following elements:

  • Vivid descriptions and imagery
  • Metaphorical expressions (e.g., "I am a star in the kitchen" vs. "I am a very good cook")
  • Intimate self-disclosure statements (e.g., "In my life, sharing is the keyword" vs. "I often go to the gym")
  • Writing from another person's perspective
  • Concrete information about what someone is looking for (e.g., "Looking for an intelligent man with a sense of humor")

The researchers conclude by remarking that almost all dating profiles can benefit from an originality check.

"The vast majority of profile texts still appear cliché-ridden and generic and show a high level of predictability," say the researchers. "Most profile owners present similar information in which self-descriptions and common interests are emphasized (e.g., love to laugh and travel, like to sip wine by fireplaces, go for romantic strolls on the beach). To be more original, profile owners could write texts that are novel and differ in some way from what is generally seen, both regarding the personal information that is provided and in the phrasing, word, and stylistic choices that are made."