Goals Of This Work

In taking an analytic approach to understanding how people use online dating systems, I have two primary goals:

1. Gain a better understanding of which factors in human attraction are salient in an online personals context

2. Inform the design of future online dating systems by providing them with information about what factors people actually consider when they make decisions about whom to contact and answer

To achieve these goals, I analyzed data from one online dating system in particular. Through an agreement brokered by the Media Laboratory with an online dating Web site (the "Site"), I obtained access to a snapshot of activity on the Site over an eight-month period, from June 2002 through February 2003. The data included users' personal profile information, their self-reported preferences for a mate, and their communications via the site's private message system with other users.

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