In the age of online dating and "catfishing," retouched photos are raising red flags. Researchers at the University of Connecticut have found that men perceive beautified images of women to be more attractive – but less trustworthy.
Interestingly enough, women found men with retouched photos both more attractive and more trustworthy, according to the study, entitled "Too Hot to Trust."
The subjects were randomly shown one of four pictures of the opposite sex, some of which were "relatively normal" – with average lighting and no special makeup or hair treatment – and others that had been beautified.
Men found "beautified" pictures of women to be more attractive but less trustworthy than un-retouched pictures of the same people. Nonetheless, researchers determined that men still had a higher desire to date the "retouched" women and concluded that “attraction seems to be more important than trust” to the people surveyed.
"Trust is an important part of any relationship and it certainly plays an important role in the forging of new social bonds in the dating context. Yet, we found an interesting relationship between attractiveness and trust for males who were viewing female profile pictures. Specifically, men typically found the more beautified and therefore more attractive profile to also be less trustworthy," McGloin said in a statement. "This finding provides an empirical highlight to the concept of cat-fishing and the larger phenomena surrounding online dating, in which it is both normal and acceptable for individuals' to mislead or deceive their potential suitors."
He added that "even when men suspect that a woman may not look exactly like she does in her profile picture, they are willing to take the risk and pursue a date with her."
McGloin, Denes and Kamisher will present their findings at the International Communication Association Conference in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from May 21-25.