When it comes to the ABCs of digital courtship, success can start with a solid screen name.
As for nailing that screen name, according to an analysis published in the journal Evidence Based Medicine, it helps to start with the ABCs.
The joint data analysis, by researchers with Queen Mary University of London and the University of Texas, found that choosing internet dating handles that begin with a letter in the first half of the alphabet is as important as uploading a flattering profile pic or crafting the perfect introductory headline.
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The findings, which were synthesized from 86 studies that met inclusion criteria, give a partial picture of the do’s and don'ts of making an online love connection.
"Initial interest was best captured through: a desirable screen name starting with a letter in the top half of the alphabet; an attractive still picture; and a fluent headline message," the paper says.
'Fun2bwith' has universal appeal
Screen names beginning in the top half of the alphabet may spell success in dating, according to the researchers. That’s because high achievers with names nearer to the beginning of the alphabet have been linked to educational attainment and higher incomes.
'Those in the lower quarter of the alphabet will be lost in the bottom of the pile if you start at the top.' - Analytical review of online dating screen names
U.S. researchers have previously described this phenomenon as "alphabetical discrimination," and note that lists are often in alphabetical order.
"Those in the lower quarter of the alphabet will be lost in the bottom of the pile if you start at the top," the Queen Mary and University of Texas team wrote.
Search engines also sort names alphabetically.
Negative associations from words such as "Little" or “Bugg" should be avoided in screen names, the British and American researchers said, though they said playful-sounding names such as "Fun2bwith" appeared to be effective.
There are other considerations to take into account in choosing the right name.
Men like 'Cutie,' women go for 'Cultured'
The researchers said men are more drawn to names indicating physical attractiveness, such as "Blondie" or "Cutie," whereas women prefer to chase would-be dates that have names denoting intelligence, such as "Cultured."
The British researchers outlined a few other considerations and suggestions to maximize dating success online:
- An ideal ratio of 70:30 for describing both who you are and what you're looking for in a mate is seen as most effective.
- Steer clear of complex language in profile write-ups, and demonstrate wit or humour.
- Men are enticed by physical fitness; women are more drawn to bravery and risk-taking over kindness.
- The researchers suggest that online daters sort through profiles for a possible match and mirror that person's screen name.
- Evidence shows women who wear red in photos are more likely to boost interest levels.
- Include a photo featuring a genuine smile that crinkles up the eyes.
How should online daters employ the British team's findings?
"Those embarking on this medium can use the evidence-based approach from the outset," the researchers wrote.
"Those already registered should update the profile.