Tuesday, April 2, 2019


While I will admit to being somewhat surprised to find it on Physics.org, I found this article to be an interesting one. I signed up for an online dating site back in the day, at the behest of an ex-girlfriend who'd roped me into helping her out with some speed-dating events that she was hosting, but never really put much time into it, and so I find data on how they work to be fascinating.

It turns out, that out of four online dating markets studied, sending a longer message to a more-desirable potential partner one aspires to doesn't increase one's chances of having that person message back. Except here in the Seattle area, where a longer message does, in fact, increase the chances of having someone who's otherwise "out of one's league" send a reciprocal message. (How the fact that the Seattle area is considered a difficult market for men plays into this, I don't know.)

Like most academic papers, this one is written in "science-speak," which I have to admit didn't put me off reading it. There's something about the incongruity of the sentence: "Here, we report results from a quantitative study of aspirational mate pursuit in adult heterosexual romantic relationship markets in the United States, using large-scale messaging data from a popular online dating site (see the “Data” section)," that I find remarkably amusing. Not being much of a romantic myself, I'm of the opinion that one can quite easily apply the tools of science to understanding how people go about seeking partners for themselves, and so I tend to find these sorts of studies to be quite helpful in understanding how people see the world around them.

Although perhaps "people" is the wrong word to use here. After all, this is a study of online dating messaging patterns in four big-city markets. There are an awful lot of people who wouldn't have been captured in this, and the way they go about things could potentially be quite different than the urban and suburban hopefuls who found themselves gamely sending messages to people more desirable than themselves.

So I suspect that it's more accurate to say that in reading this, I have learned something about the particular segment of society that I inhabit. And that's always useful.

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