A picture is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to online dating, maybe even more: Various apps, like Tinder and Hinge, allow you to ‘swipe left’ or reject someone based on their appearance only. It might seem hard to judge books (and humans) by their covers, but almost half of the people believe that they can understand the real personalities of strangers from their photos and even prefer some photographic trends over others. For example: Posing with animals.
Previously, to research have found that having pets plays an important role in choosing who to date, and that women prefer men who have cats and dogs over those who don’t have pets. all. That said, they favored those with dogs. Intrigued by the aforementioned findings, Colorado State University researchers sought to study how to have cats in the photos would affect an individual’s online dating experience, if at all.
For the study, the CSU team interviewed 1,388 heterosexual women, asking them to rate several images of men – some with cats, others without – as well as “masculinity,” “femininity.” and “rendezvous capacity”. Finally, they were asked if they identified as “dog person”, “cat person”, neither or both.
Much to the researchers’ surprise, the majority of participants found men with cats to be “less datable,” despite previous studies showing that women preferred men with pets as mates. When shown pictures of men without a feline, 38% of those polled said they would date him casually, while 37% would consider a serious relationship. However, in response to the same man holding a cat, the numbers dropped to 33% for each category. Overall, women were more likely to completely exclude men with cats as potential mates.
Respondents to the study felt that men with cats were less outgoing, more neurotic, pleasant and open, perceiving cat owners as “less masculine” than those without feline friends. That said, women who identified as “cat people” were more likely to be willing to date people with cats or to have no opinion.
“We suspect that old cultural norms may play a role in the responses,” the study’s authors wrote regarding the results. “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considered a female pet – posing with cats may have prompted the women who responded to our survey to adopt this outdated trope by default, despite some popular media efforts to raise the status of owners of male cats.