Stick to Roombas and blue-skinned aliens and you'll be fine. But build a realistic feminine android or render a CG version of Tom Hanks in a train conductor's outfit, and the uncanny valley will swallow you whole. Unless, of course, it doesn't really exist. [...]
According to all of the roboticists and computer scientists we interviewed, the Uncanny Valley is in short supply during face-to-face contact with robots. Two of the robots that inspire the most terror -- and accompanying YouTube comments -- are Osaka University's CB2, a child-like, gray-skinned robot, and KOBIAN, Waseda University's hyper-expressive humanoid. In person, no one rejected the robots. No one screamed and threw chairs at them, or smiled politely and slipped out to report lingering feelings of abject horror. [...] The uncanny effect appears to be an incredibly specific and specialized phenomenon: It seems to happen, when it does, remotely. In person, the uncanny vanishes.
In terms of getting new messages, the MySpace Shot is the single most effective photo type for women. We at first thought this was just because, typically, you can kind of see down the girl's shirt with the camera at that angle -- indeed, that seems to be the point of shot in the first place -- so we excluded all cleavage-showing shots from the pool and ran the numbers again. No change: it's still the best shot; better, in fact, than straight-up boob pics (more on those later). At least from the perspective of online-dating, and perhaps social media in general, the MySpace Shot might be the best way for a woman to take a picture.
The male "Ab Shot" has the same reputation as the MySpace Shot -- it's an Internet cliché that supposedly everyone thinks is only for bozos. To wit: a journalist was visiting our office recently, and when we told her we were researching user photos, the first thing she said was "please tell me people hate it when guys show off their abs." We hadn't finished running the numbers yet, so we confidently reassured her that people did. The data contradicted us.
Of course, there is some self-selection here: the guys showing off their abs are the ones with abs worth showing, and naturally the best bodies get lots of messages. So we can't recommend this photo tactic to every man. But, contrary to everything you read about profile pictures, if you're a guy with a nice body, it's actually better to take off your shirt than to leave it on.