collageOKCupid, the dating site run by Harvard alums who love statistical analysis, has just released another data-driven study of its users. The topic? Profile pics and how to optimize them to attract more interest from prospective dates. (We covered an earlier study that  looked at how race affected response rates on the dating site.)

For this survey, OKCupid looked at 7,140 people randomly chosen from all users in big cities between ages 18 and 32 with only one profile photo.

Some unexpected conclusions:

1) Eye contact helps women, but hurts men in terms of connecting with new people. OKCupid suspects men need to remain mysterious.

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2) Taking your own amateur photo with a webcam or point-and-shoot camera actually helps. “MySpace”-style photos, or the cheesy kind where you take a picture of yourself by holding a camera above your face, seem to work best.

Also, posing with an animal hurts women, but helps men.

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3) If you’re a guy, showing off your physical assets like your abs helps more when you’re younger. The reverse is true for women: when you’re older, showing cleavage boosts new contacts by more than three times as much as it does when you’re younger.

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