We at first thought this was just because, typically, you can kind of see down the girl’s shirt with the camera at that angle—indeed, that seems to be the point of shot in the first place — so we excluded all cleavage-showing shots from the pool and ran the numbers again.No change: it’s still the best shot; better, in fact, than straight-up boob pics (more on those later). The male “Ab Shot” has the same reputation as the My Space Shot — it’s an Internet cliché that supposedly everyone thinks is only for bozos.

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To wit: a journalist was visiting our office recently, and when we told her we were researching user photos, the first thing she said was “please tell me people hate it when guys show off their abs.” We hadn’t finished running the numbers yet, so we confidently reassured her that people did. Of course, there is some self-selection here: the guys showing off their abs are the ones with abs worth showing, and naturally the best bodies get lots of messages.

So we can’t recommend this photo tactic to every man.

In fact, we used to give this very advice on Ok Cupid’s own photo upload page: When at first these results came back, we didn’t believe it.

We installed all kinds of sophisticated photo analysis software libraries, ran scripts to measure the percentage of face in each of our photos, generated diabolically meaningless scatter plots: But the facts were stubborn: your face doesn’t necessarily matter.

For women, a smile isn’t strictly better: she actually gets the most messages by flirting directly into the camera, like the center and right-hand subjects above.

from the camera is the single worst attitude a woman can take.In fact, not showing your face can in fact be a positive, as long as you substitute in something unusual, sexy, or mysterious enough to make people want to talk to you.All of the above subjects get far more messages than average, and yet none of them have outstanding profiles.But, contrary to everything you read about profile pictures, if you’re a guy with a nice body, it’s actually better to take off your shirt than to leave it on.We would never suggest to a Fitzgerald or a Dave Eggers to limit his profile to 100 words, and so why should guys with great bodies keep their best asset under wraps?In the future perhaps we can investigate what’s behind the decline: is it because older guys and their older abs are inherently less attractive, or because women as they age find body shots less interesting?