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Should you Photoshop Online Dating Photos

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› Should you Photoshop Online Dating Photos
  • Published on May 11, 2015

A recent study from the University of Connecticut looked into the effects of using Photoshop for online dating profile images. As we teach Photoshop courses, we’re always interested to see how it’s being used, but it’s not every day that university researchers study the impacts of how manipulated images impact viewer’s perceptions. This study was seeking to determine how both men and women perceived people that had images which were retouched.

With Photoshop and other tools having become so common, it’s tempting for anyone sharing a photo to retouch the image. Until now it was unknown as to whether a modified image was helpful or harmful for online dating. Does this really help to put the best foot forward, or does retouching make an image be too good to be true? The study concluded that a retouched image does impact the perception by the viewer, showing that Photoshop effects perceptions differently. The results were split between how men and women perceived the altered photos. Females who viewed retouched images of men had a different perception than males who viewed retouched images of females.

Females who posted retouched images were viewed as less trustworthy than those who posted photos that were not edited. Yet despite being perceived as being less trustworthy, men were more interested in dating those who had retouched their profile images. The bottom line for women considering using Photoshop to retouch dating profile images:  they may be perceived as being less trustworthy, but they’ll find more interest in their profiles, and those viewing the images will have a greater desire to date them.

The use of Photoshop by men on profile images had a positive impact on both their perceived trust as well as their desirability. Women viewed retouched images as being both more attractive, and being more trustworthy. The conclusion that men and women see different results from the editing techniques learned in Photoshop retouching classes doesn’t answer all questions relating to the impact of image editing. Whether the perception of being more or less trustworthy has any impact on a long-term relationship isn’t part of the study, leaving room for future Photoshop research.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.