Analytic Work

Finally, the present work can be extended and supplemented by further analysis of the Site I have studied and by similar analysis of other systems. Few data sets provide such a wealth of information about human romantic interaction. With such a large number of cases, too, statistical analyses are extraordinarily sensitive even to small effects. This requires us to consider strength as well as significance, but with a hypothesis in mind, subtle effects can be detected. The disadvantage of large-scale quantitative analysis alone, of course, is that it misses the experiential facet of online dating, which is needed to complete our understanding of the process.

One topic not addressed here is searching behavior; I have discussed what characteristics actually seek, but we do not know whether their searching processes support finding what users appear to want. Also, users' behavior before they quit the dating site — either explicitly, or implicitly by not showing up for a long time — might yield insight into whether they are leaving because they found a partner or because they are dissatisfied or bored.

Some degree of manual coding of profile features and messaging exchanges would improve quantitative analyses, although it would limit the scale of the sample. Particularly useful features to code would be attractiveness of photographs and style of writing in free-text sections of the profile.

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