21Pictures is a new kind of dating site that uses insights from psychology to help people find a date. You describe yourself in pictures, and find people you like by looking at theirs.
We’ve created an online dating experience that as far as possible mirrors the real physical world. Pictures encourage intuitive decision-making, which we’re all pretty good at in social situations (thanks to our evolutionary past). On 21Pictures we get people to use their natural social intelliegence the way they would, say, at a party.
Your profile is like a noticeboard of your life: no words, it’s all about the visual. You can import photos from Facebook or Instagram, or from your phone or computer. The idea is to use pictures that describe you or your life in some way, so others can get an intuitive sense of what you’re like.
Intuition isn’t the only psychological “hack” we use on 21Pictures. The site is also designed to reduce the paralysing effect of too much choice. Rather than let users browse through hundreds of potential matches (because when does that happen in the real world?!), we give you 21 to look at at any one time, with the option of exchanging any you don’t like.
We’re the thoughtful alternative to the hook-up app – or as the Daily Mail put it, “Tinder 2.0”.
Once you sign up (dead easy), you'll be asked to create a profile from up to 21 pictures of your life (minimum 5). What pictures you use is entirely up to you. You'll then be able to view other people's profiles, up to 21 at any one time, and communicate with them through their pictures. If you'd like to know the psychology behind these limits, read on!
Your profile could look something like this:
What happens when I sign up?
The sign-up process comprises four simple steps, which together should take you no longer than a few minutes, though you can spend as long as you like arranging, re-sizing and filtering your pictures the way you want.
Step 1. Enter your name and email address, create a username and password, and choose your dating preferences.
Step 2. Upload a profile image, a photo of your face.
Step 3. Upload some pictures to your profile. You can do this via your Facebook or Instagram accounts, or by grabbing pictures from your computer or phone.
Step 4. Answer 21 questions about your core values, which will help us steer you towards others of your ilk.
That’s it! Simple as pie.
Once the system has finished delivering your matches, you can view them in your Matchbox. You’re matched with 21 people at any one time, though you can remove any you don’t like – up to three a day – and we’ll fill the gap with a fresh face. If you find someone you like the look of, you can start a conversation through one of their pictures. No need for awkward introductions, since you'll already have something to talk about.
The psychology behind 21Pictures
Most psychologists agree that thinking too hard about the kind of person you’d like to fall in love with is not that helpful, since the choices involved can be overwhelming. Far better to allow your instinct into the action. In the real world, we’re all great at using instinct to suss people out, to determine what we share with them. When you click with someone, there’s not too much thinking involved.
The idea behind 21Pictures is to get people to use their intuitive social smarts online the way they do offline. Hence our emphasis on pictures, which carry information that is hard to capture in words or algorithms. On 21Pictures, you describe yourself, or your life, entirely in pictures – preferably ones that sum you up in some way. In psychological terms, a picture really is worth a thousand words (and 21 of them are worth a small book).
We do other things differently too
As well as encouraging you to use your intuition, the site is also designed to reduce the effects of choice overload. Research shows that faced with an endless selection of potential dates, people make superficial comparative judgments rather than focusing on the individual qualities that may be staring them in the face.
This is why, rather than let you browse ad infinitum for the date of your dreams, we give you 21 matches to look at at any one time, with the option of changing any you don’t like (up to three a day). Those 21 questions you answer during the sign-up process are designed to put you with others who share your values and worldview, the things that matter to you – the kind of people, say, who you might expect to bump into at a friend's party. Compatibility is an inexact science; we're giving you behavioural science's best bet.
For more on the psychology behind 21Pictures, check out this article published in the Evening Standard magazine in September. Or this article on decision-making and dating in the winter edition of YCN Magazine.
21Pictures was founded by science writer Michael Bond (michaelbond.co.uk), built by Shed Collective (shedcollective.org) and designed by Susie Gray. To get in touch, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.