Messages Exchanged A Proxy For Social Affinity

In this attempt to understand what users consider as they evaluate potential partners, it was necessary to choose a quantitative descriptor from our dataset as a proxy for social affinity. Any descriptor would be less accurate than an explicit rating of a user by a conversational partner, but for this post hoc analysis we were unable to ask users to rate each other. Thus, we chose the number of private messages users exchanged through the Site during our 8-month study period as the dependent variable by which to assess the effect of profile characteristics and user behaviors on the affinity that others had for him or her.

Using the number of private messages exchanged by a dyad as a proxy for social affinity seems reasonable, but it is complicated by the common practice among pairs of interacting users of transitioning to another medium, such as e-mail, IM, telephone, or face-to-face, once the users are comfortable with each other. The sooner the transition to another communicative channel, the fewer messages the pair exchanges through the dating system, which means that the most successful pairings might appear unsuccessful if the number of on-site private messages is the only metric.

In the following section, I analyze the rate of transition to other channels for two reasons: first, to understand its impact on the validity of private message volume as a proxy for social attraction, and second, because the frequency of transition to other channels is important to understanding how users handle the process of getting to know someone through an online dating system.

No More Disappointments

No More Disappointments

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