We looked at what happens when guys add their chats to their dating app profiles.
If you have used a dating app, you will know the importance of choosing good profile pictures.
These photos don’t just relay attractiveness; a recent study suggested that 43% of people think they can get an idea of someone’s personality from their image. You might guess that someone who included a photo of themselves hiking is a type of person who enjoys the outdoors.
If you are a male who owns a cat, what effect does it have on suitors if you post a photo posing with your favorite feline?
Previous studies suggested that women judge a potential male partner based on whether or not he has pets. While they favor men with dogs, the results have shown that they also give men with cats an edge over non-pet owners.
For this reason, we figured that males photographed with cats would likely be considered more attractive and desirable than males who did not pose with animals.
In our study, we recruited 1,388 straight American women between the ages of 18 and 24 to complete a short anonymous online survey. In the survey, we presented them with photos of one of two young white men in their early 20s posing alone or with a cat. To avoid biasing the women’s responses, we randomly featured the photo they saw first. Each participant rated only one man, with and without a cat.
Whenever participants saw a photo, we asked them to rate the man pictured on several personality attributes, including his masculinity, femininity, and dataability. We also asked the women if they defined themselves as a “cat person”, “dog person”, “none” or “both”.
Most women found men holding cats to be less datable. This result surprised us, as previous studies had shown that women found men with pets to have higher potential as partners. They also believed that the men holding cats were less outgoing and neurotic, pleasant and open. Above all, they saw these men as less masculine as well.
This last point may explain our findings.
Previous research suggests that women often look for masculine men – both in terms of physical appearance and behavior. So the fact that the women in our study found the photo of the single man to be more masculine and more datable supports the idea that women are likely to look for clues related to masculinity first to determine dataability.
We suspect that old cultural norms may play a role in the responses. Previous research suggests that male femininity and homosexuality are still seen as linked. Since cats are sometimes more closely associated with female owners – and therefore considered a female pet – posing with cats may have prompted the women who responded to our survey to adopt this outdated trope by default, despite some popular media efforts to raise the status of owners of male cats.
Alternatively, the perception of male cat owners as less outgoing and more neurotic, pleasant and open may have prompted our respondents to put these males in the “friend zone”. In other words, maybe seeing a man posing with the cat suggests he might be a better confidant than a date.
It is important to note that whether women identify as “cat people”, “dog people”, “both” or “neither” affected their perceptions. Women who identified as “cat people” were more likely to view the men photographed with cats as more datable or to say they had no preferences.
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Of course, like all research, our work has its limits. Our sample is a very specific population – heterosexual, predominantly white women, between the ages of 18 and 24, and residing in the United States. We don’t know how these results would change if we investigated, for example, bisexual or gender-fluid women, men interested in men, or individuals from different cultural backgrounds.
And that’s the best part. This is a new and growing area of research, and it is just one of the few potential studies on the relationship between pet ownership and first impressions of dating apps. This means that we have our work cut out for us.
But in the meantime, if straight men are looking to find a mate, it’s probably a good idea if they spare from showing off their photos with their favorite felines on their first or second date.