OkCupid, Math Say Being Ugly Gets You Dates

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It's better to be ugly than cute if you're a lady looking for dates on OkCupid, Christian Rudder declares. The dating site crunched some numbers on not just which women men find attractive, but which ones guys are most likely to contact. It turns out that being widely-considered attractive doesn't do a girl all that much good. The likelihood that a man will message a woman increases when he thinks fewer men will be attracted to her.

On a 1 to 5 scale, it's better to have a lot of guys think you're a 5 (way hot) and a lot think you're a 1 (not hot) than it is for most people to think you're a 4 (pretty hot). The female with the controversial facial anatomy will consistently get more inquiries from interested males than will the female for whom a general consensus has formed. Rudder theorizes why this might be:

So this is our paradox: when some men think you're ugly, other men are more likely to message you. And when some men think you're cute, other men become less interested. Why would this happen? Perhaps a little game theory can explain:

Suppose you're a man who's really into someone. If you suspect other men are uninterested, it means less competition. You therefore have an added incentive to send a message. You might start thinking: maybe she's lonely. . . maybe she's just waiting to find a guy who appreciates her. . . at least I won't get lost in the crowd. . . maybe these small thoughts, plus the fact that you really think she's hot, prod you to action. You send her the perfectly crafted opening message. ...

On the other hand, a woman with a preponderance of '4' votes, someone conventionally cute, but not totally hot, might appear to be more in-demand than she actually is. To the typical man considering her, she's obviously attractive enough to create the impression that other guys are into her, too. But maybe she's hot enough for him to throw caution (and grammar) to the wind and send her a message. It's the curse of being cute.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.