Analysis Of Behavior On One Dating System

This introduction has provided a survey of diverse perspectives on attraction and online dating. In the second chapter, I present a quantitative analysis of the behavior of users on one online personals Web site. The analysis seeks to reveal the preferences of the users with respect to potential dating partners by examining whom they contact and with whom they converse from a set of 57,000 active users.

The findings highlight the importance of a variety of characteristics to users of the site under study, as revealed by the communicative patterns of the users. In particular, the examination of "bounding" characteristics shows that life course attributes, including marital status, whether one wants children, and how many children one has already, are much more likely than chance to be the same across the two users in a dyadic interaction. Regression models built to predict how many messages a user with specific attributes will receive reveal somewhat different preferences for men and women. For both sexes, the strongest predictor by far of messages received is the number of messages sent. For men, age, educational level, and self-rated physical attractiveness are the next most important qualities. For women, however, they are not being overweight, self-rated physical attractiveness, and having a photo.

In the third chapter, I consider the implications of these findings for the design of online dating systems. Specifically, I suggest elevating the importance of life course attributes in both search interfaces and matching algorithms to better reflect their great importance to users. Additionally, I note that many subsets of the population

— by sex, ethnicity, religion — might benefit from interfaces tailored to their unique preferences; a generalized tool that serves all subpopulations likely serves all of them suboptimally.

Finally, I propose new directions both for the design of online dating systems and for their further study. New designs might include mobile, in-context systems; experiential tools for learning more about others; and the incorporation of physiological signals of attraction. My research agenda suggests further analytic work, but also experimental, ethnographic, and comparative approaches.

Chapter 2

Analysis of Users and Interactions

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