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To look better in photos, tilt your head, study suggests

Having trouble meeting an online date? You may want to reconsider the angle you’re using for your profile shot.

According to a new paper published in the journal Evolutionary Psychology, men and women can make themselves more attractive to others by tilting their head a certain way.

“Our research investigated if looking at the face from different perspectives as a result of the height differential between men and women influenced perceived masculinity or femininity,” says Dr. Darren Burke, senior psychology lecturer at the University of Newcastle in Ourimbah, New South Wales, Australia. “The research found the way we angle our faces affects our attractiveness to the opposite sex.”

What’s the best angle?

“For women, a slight downward tilt of the head simulates the view from above and that is most feminine and most attractive,” says Burke, who conducted the research with his wife, Dr. Danielle Sulikowski. “For men, a slight backward tilt of the head is judged at most masculine, which can make the man more attractive.”

A perfect example of the attractive downward tilt of the head in women is the late Princess Diana, says Burke.

“She seemed to always have that demure, slightly down-tilted angle of her face,” he says.

Interestingly, that’s an angle some women already embrace.

“I always take pictures of myself from above,” says Krista Fedor, a 36-year-old retail buyer from Austin, Texas. “It’s definitely more flattering. When someone is sitting and you’re standing and they take a picture of you, it’s like, ‘I don’t want to see that.’”

Fedor says she also tends to tilt her head a bit to the right in photos.

“I don’t know what it is but as soon as a camera gets in front of me, I tilt my head,” she says. “Even in my Costco photo, my head is tilted.”

Burke hasn’t studied the sideways head tilt but says he’s been questioned about it.

“People have suggested that a tilted head is a flirtatious signal,” he says. “But we need to run the studies to find out.”

Speaking of studies, Burke says he and his wife plan to next look at whether men and women are already taking advantage of the “head tilt” in their daily lives.

“Our next step is to gather data about whether people exploit this height-driven difference to manipulate their attractiveness,” he says. “Maybe by adjusting their head tilt when interacting with someone they are attracted to. Or by choosing pictures of themselves on social networking or dating sites that have been taken from above or below.”

Fedor thinks the researchers are definitely on to something there.

“I’ve noticed a lot of people take their picture from above on Facebook,” she says. “I guess we’re all in on that same secret.”

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