The Dummies Guide to the Science of Online Dating


A pair of scientists, one single and one married say they have came up with a series of scientifically vetted tips to get that essential first date from online dating sites. Helpful Hint: Women should wear red in their profile photo, while both genders should pick a screen name that starts with a letter at the beginning of the alphabet!

Above all, say the scientists, be HONEST, don’t aim too high and have a sense of humor. Who doesn’t like someone who makes you laugh?

“Online dating is made up of several different steps,” said Khalid S. Khan, professor of women’s health and clinical epidemiology at Barts and the London School of Medicine. “For each step there is literature out there on how best to portray your profile without having to resort to blatant lying or being so positive in self portrayal that it’s not close to reality.”
Khan is an expert in evaluating medical studies. He took it upon himself to review the existing sociological and psychological literature of online dating on behalf of a colleague, Sameer Chaudry, also a physician in practice at the University of North Texas (who happens to be single… holler!).

The pair studied over 4,000 publications and found only 86 of them that met their criteria with various indicators of successful profile characteristics. Their study is now published presently in the journal Evidence Based Medicine.

“The main thing is that people should describe themselves, but also what they are looking for,” Khan said. “Research shows that the profiles have to be as close to reality as possible and be described in a simple, fluent and humorous way so as to attract the party that matches your profile.”

Khan said that since screen names are often sorted alphabetically when online sites and apps like Tinder do their automagical “matching” algorithms, it makes sense to use an anonymous screen name starting with the letters A to M. That is because lots of research has shown that people with last names closer to the top of the alphabet are more educated and more successful, Khan said.

“We are given our surnames by our parents, but as far as a screen name, every person has a choice,” Khan said. “The chances are that people on the bottom of the alphabet will be invisible on their screen.”

He also said to avoid screen names that could be considered inferior, such as “Little” or “Bug.”

They went on to give a list of incredibly helpful tips, which, the available reasearch suggests, could potentially boost the chances of getting that hot first date!

Once interest has been piqued:

  • Make your e-mail invitation short and easy to read.
  • Don’t be afraid to use a little poetry, (BONUS POINTS )especially if you can rhyme with the potential date’s headline.
  • Respond promptly: eagerness is not a turn-off. We live in age where we are easily connected and patience is short.
  • Don’t write long speeches, but don’t got too short that it seems like you have no time or don’t care.
  • Use humor. Point blank, people enjoy a good laugh.
  • Don’t sell yourself as a rare commodity like you’re the shit and a must have.

If on a webcam:


  • Don’t be a sloucher
  • Dish out genuine compliments, but don’t over flatter.
  • Don’t portray yourself as perfect: It arouses suspicion unless you’re carved like a god or goddess of Mount Olympus.
  • Do end every webcam session on a positive vibe including something positive about yourself.
  • And last but not least, make it a desire to meet soon. Better now than never.



Derek Kreager, professor of psychology at Pennsylvania State University, has studied online dating and whether attractive people get more invitations than less-attractive ones (they do) and whether people try to “aim high” by selecting someone who is more attractive rather than choosing someone at their same level (they do).

Kreagher said the idea of selecting a screen name at the beginning of the alphabet depends on how the matching algorithm works at each dating site.

“A lot of the research shows that just having an attractive photo swamps the rest of the characteristics when getting a contact,” Kreagher said. “Obviously there are preferences based on similarity. People will want to share the same characteristics. Things such as age and overall attractiveness are very important for who your pool of available daters is going to be.”

While Khan a happily married man for 25 years says he does not have any real world experience in online dating, his colleague Chaudury took full advantage of the study and appears to be having some success. In fact, he is in Rome this week with his new girlfriend and you know what that means. No shame, no shame at all.

if-you-know-what-i-mean-has science gone too far

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