I’ve long been sceptical about the honesty of online dating profiles. That’s not to say I think everyone posts out of date pictures and lies about their height (ahem men) and age (ladies) but that it’s always difficult to gauge a person’s true personality from a picture and a paragraph. It’s with enthusiasm, then, that I learnt about 21pictures, a new dating site which really works to convey a person’s personality and I’m delighted to welcome Micheal Bond, founder of the site to explain more …
Anyone who’s tried online dating knows it can be fun if you’re after a hook-up, but pretty unsatisfying if you’re looking for something more meaningful. We’re building a mobile app that uses insights from psychology to make it a whole lot easier for relationship-seekers.
It’s designed to get people to make decisions intuitively, the way we do in the real world. You describe yourself in pictures, and find people you like by looking at theirs. We also steer you towards others who share your values, rather than the endless browsing you get on most apps. All in all, we give you behavioural science’s best shot at finding someone compatible.
We’ve already tested the concept as a website. At www.21pictures.com, we’ve created an online dating experience that as far as possible, in psychological terms, mirrors the physical world. We encourage people to use their natural social intelligence the way they would, say, at a party. Pictures prompt intuitive decision-making which, thanks to millions of years of group living, we’re all pretty good at in social situations.
21Pictures is all about the visual. Your profile is like a noticeboard of your life. You can import photos from Facebook or Instagram, or from your phone or computer. The idea is to use images that describe you or your life in some way, so that others can get an intuitive sense of what you’re like. (In the future, we plan to allow 21-second video and audio clips as well.)
Intuition isn’t the only reality check we use on 21Pictures. The site is also designed to reduce the paralysing effect of having too much choice. Rather than let members browse through hundreds of potential matches – because when does that happen in the real world? – we give them 21 to look at at any one time, with the option of exchanging any they don’t like (up to three a day).
To help us select suitable matches, members answer 21 questions during the sign-up process about their moral and cultural values. The questions are derived from psychological research on compatibility, and we use the answers to bring together members who share some basic values. We’re not aiming for perfect matches: the aim is simply to put people in a virtual room with others they might enjoy being with.
If you like the look of someone’s profile, you can simply message them through one of their pictures. No need for awkward introductions, you’ll already have something to talk about.
Follow 21Pictures on twitter @21_Pictures
and if you love the sound of the project and want to help fund the new app, you can do so here!