Group Photo Solo Cheerleader Effect

Online Dating

Group Photo or Solo: The Cheerleader Effect

Julie Spira

Written by: Julie Spira

Julie Spira

Julie Spira is a leading online dating expert and founder of She’s the bestselling author of "The Perils of Cyber-Dating" and creates irresistible profiles for singles. Follow @JulieSpira or connect on Instagram.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

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New research from the University of California, San Diego conducted by Drew Walker and Edward Vul suggests online daters should use a group photo with friends as their primary online dating photo.

Walker and Vul believe people appear more attractive in a group than in isolation.

They call this “The Cheerleader Effect.”

The study states the following three criteria for suggesting group photos:

  1. The visual system automatically computes ensemble representations of faces presented in a group.
  2. Individual members of the group are biased toward this ensemble average.
  3. Average faces appear more attractive.

Taking all three into account, the researchers suggest individual faces will seem more attractive when presented in a group because they will appear more similar to the average group face, which is more attractive than group members’ individual faces.

“I believe you should make your

online dating profile all about you.”

Does this seem confusing to you?

Sure, I think a happy group shot might be better in a secondary photo than a selfie taken in the mirror or with the family pet, but for a primary online dating profile photo, I have to disagree.

When men view thumbnails of women, they look for a happy smiling face, not a group of faces. It’s confusing to men when they see multiple women in a photo. Often they will wonder which woman they should be writing to and as a result, won’t write at all.

While group dating has become popular and even the dating site Grouper encourages singles to go on group dates, at the end of the day, a guy is looking for one woman to call his girlfriend.

By posting a photo of your girlfriend network, you’re sending the message that he’s signing up for the complete package: you and your BFFs.

At the end of the digital day, I believe you should make your online dating profile all about YOU, not your extended network.

Leave your children, pets and bikini shots on your camera or cell phone and post the best photos you can find of yourself while looking for love online.


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