Online Daters Are Really Looking for Their Better Half

WEDNESDAY, Aug. 8, 2018 — Most people seeking romantic partners online try for someone “out of their league.”

That’s the conclusion of researchers who analyzed data from online dating networks in Boston, Chicago, New York and Seattle. They found most of the people contacted prospects who were considered 25 percent more desirable than the seeker.

The study, published Aug. 8 in the journal Science Advances, also found that people sent longer messages to those considered more desirable.

“I think a common complaint when people use online dating websites is they feel like they never get any replies,” lead author Elizabeth Bruch said in a Santa Fe Institute news release.

“This can be dispiriting. But even though the response rate is low, our analysis shows that 21 percent of people who engage in this aspirational behavior do get replies from a mate who is out of their league, so perseverance pays off,” she added.

To rate users’ desirability, the researchers used an algorithm based on the number of messages a person received and the desirability of the senders.

“If you are contacted by people who are themselves desirable, then you are presumably more desirable yourself,” the study authors wrote.

When the researchers compared desirability scores against user attributes, they found correlations between age, education level and ethnicity. And, they noted, up to age 50, older men tended to have higher desirability scores than younger men, while women’s desirability scores tended to decline from ages 18 to 60.

Bruch and her co-author Mark Newman study complex systems at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and belong to the external faculty of the Santa Fe Institute.

“We have so many folk theories about how dating works that have not been scientifically tested,” Bruch said. “Data from online dating gives us a window on the strategies that people use to find partners.”

More information

The FBI explains how to protect yourself from online dating scams.

Posted: August 2018

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