Quantification Of Dating Pools Through A Online Dating System.

Background

And my last post, I exposed different photographs of couples drawn from real facebook profiles belonging to anonymous individuals. The main idea is that all these examples of couples randomly selected had a sharp and easily noticeable difference in the beauty/physical attractiveness between of two members of couple.

FFF

Most of studies of mating and mate choice have commonly relied on surveys or census data of married, cohabiting, or dating couples and therefore omit important pre-relationship dynamics. However experimental tests of ecological hypotheses are few. By beginning with established relationships, such studies miss initial romantic gestures that hold valuable clues for partner preferences and the origins of relationship stratification.

In my first research, I developed an online dating test to analyze solicitations and contact patterns for all active daters on a popular online dating site (Badoo) in a mid-size metropolitan area. These data provided me the opportunity to analyze men’s and women’s decisions in the earliest stages of relationship formation and allowed us to test several hypotheses about gender, partner preferences, and mate selection.

Purpose:

The purpose of this new study is to assess the dating pool for all these male examples. The dating pool is indexed as the approximate number of eligible mates (number of mating opportunities – number of opposite-sex individuals who perceive that target as a potential prospect for mating-) and quality of the pool of their potential mates. We should use these two approaches if we wish estimate the accurate index of mating opportunities.

For descriptive analyses of the correlates of men’s and women’s desirability, I’ve standardized the ratings on 1-5 scale towards a score transformation on a 1-10 scale (see Table). To ease attractiveness comparisons, I’m going to sort the ratings into five equal categories of attractiveness (high: 8-10, medium-high:6-8, medium:4-6, med-low:2-4, and low:0-2).

For now, in this first post I will focus on measuring the number of eligible mates for the male B, ranked as medium attractive: 5.18 score.

Male partner B

Male partner B

It was also desirable to establish the comparison with different female profiles. I used to his female counterpart in real life into the mating system, so we could get a proper notion of asymmetry or symmetry in dating pools for gender. It would have been more appropriate to use a girl closest to his statistical equivalence and ranked as medium. Although this girl B would be ranked within the medium-high in attractiveness ( 7.18 score), I took her profile for practical reasons and because it allows us to draw comparative conclusions between the scope of socio-sexual desirability between two individuals that make up a couple in real life. (Despite dissonance in physical appearance).

Female partner B

Female partner B

I’m going to work again in this context, considering that performing a field research (for example by measuring courtship interactions in any outside shared environment: bars/clubs, etc) is not the scope of this humble blogger and that online dating provides an ecologically valid or true-to-life context for examining all this questions.

Method:

I ran a direct experiment on a online dating site: Okcupid. I created two dummy profiles using the photos of the couple B (I’ll leave the research with the rest of couples for upcoming posts). Whereupon I could collect data from the two partners introducing their profiles within a real mating framework. Then I placed the pairs in same location. The profiles were active for a week, and the final counts are indicated by data collection during this period. It is important to note that I kept online to each profile only for a few minutes per day. This can have marked consequences on the number of visitors and number of incoming (unsolicited) messages. I guess the vast majority of people searching profiles for contacting would rather view profiles online than offline. I sopongo that there will had less impact on the number of quickmatch offers received.

In an online dating context, the number of mating opportunities can be computed as the sum of unsolicited messages recollected, quickmatch offers and answered messages:

Number of eligible mates: unsolicited messages + quickmatch offers + answered messages (reply rate).

Unsolicited messages:

A person’s popularity is indexed by the number of received messages: average number of people who initiate contact with him or her for the time he or she is active on the site. I think that this measure serves as a reasonable proxy for overall attractiveness, as we expect that more attractive people will, on average, receive more unsolicited attention than less attractive people. But rates of initial contact differ sharply by gender. Given this difference combined with the greater number of men on the site, women tend to be contacted much more often than men. Therefore this is a more valid to calculate the female dating pool, since women tend to browsing male profiles and send messages much less frequently. So this index is not representative enough to capture the magnitude of dating pool size for a given male target.

The differences in how women and men use this technology highlight just how entrenched gendered strategies in intimate relationships remain. Women are still more likely to follow traditional gendered scripts and expect men to initiate contacts,

Answered messages (reply rate):

The success of a user in online dating depends on his or her ability to garner a response from a potential date. The proportion of people who reply to one’s initial contacts is another potential proxy for attractiveness. I have omitted this index, since it does take more effort for experimentation, since it is necessary systematically browsing opposite-sex profiles and send then a significant number of messages (≥100 messages for an acceptable sample size) from each one of these fictitious profiles. In any case, although this won’t give us an exact size of the dating pool, it will serve to get a comparative idea of the scale of desirability for each one of the profiles online.

Quickmatch offers:

Finally, I consider the quickmatch feature, which let users choose potential targets. Quickmatch shows to daters the picture and profile information of a potential match. Then each user can either click them if a dater likes this person or skip them.

This feature showcases the target’s photos at the top of the page, and offers an easy way to scroll through them. The reminder of the profile is located underneath the pictures. The user is then encouraged to choose the targets on a binary scale, yes or not.

Women use to be discouraged from sending messages to contact male partners. Of course, just as in offline dating contexts, online “winks”, “quickmatch” (in the Okcupid case) or “like you” (Lovoo, Badoo, etc)  may serve as means for women to demonstrate interest with low rejection risk while letting the man continue to feel like the initiator.

Users also can click on the “like” button when they are browsing matches. And there is also an option within each profile screen to click on another “like” button placed below of “send a message” button.

I wanted to introduce two control profiles in the mating system consisting by two individuals with a modelesque appearance. So these control profiles could serve as benchmarking. I proceeded to create these two new control dummy profiles, made with portraits taken again from real facebook anonymous accounts:

highly-attractive male profile:

Highly attractive male.

Highly attractive male.

Highly-attractive female profile:

Higly attrative female

Results:

I will compute the number of eligible mates: quickmatch offers + unsolicited messages. As I said above, I did not sent out messages from these dummy profiles, so I will not be able to know the number of replied messages (number of persons who replied to each user) and response rate (proportion of initial contacts from this person to which others replied). The screenshots for each of the profiles studied after one week of testing are the following ones:

Screenshot displaying number of visitors, received messages and quickmatch offers for male B.

Screenshot displaying number of visitors, received messages and quickmatch offers for male control.

Screenshot displaying received messages and quickmatch offers for female B. The visitors count is not displayed since I accidentally clicked on this button and this count returned to 0.

Screenshot displaying number of visitors, received messages and quickmatch offers for female control.

Table of collected results:

YHH

I defined as dating pool the number of people interested in contact or be contacted by a user. In this study is constituted by the unsolicited messages count, which means the number of messages received per the week that each user was active on site, or number of people who contacted this person for this week. And quickmatch offers means number of people who showed interest in this profile, and considered to this user as a suitable potential mate.

• The highly-attractive man has 93 women interested in him, almost 19 times more dating pool in a week than the male B (5 offers). Anyway we can conclude that the dating pool (number of women willing to have a relationship with him) for an medium man is almost ridiculously small.

• The highly attractive woman had 2.5 times more men interested in her (1377 offers) in a week than the medium-high female B (544 offers). The mating pool difference among women is much lower, but keep in mind that the difference in physical attractiveness between these girls is small.

• The dating pool of girl B (544) outnumbered her real partner B (5) in 108 times more greater.

• The best looking man received almost 22 fewer offers than the best looking girl. In any case, the size of his dating pool is quite aceptable.

I guess my readers are wondering about that occurs with those other individuals that were rated in the previous post. And mainly, what happens with the other variable, the quality of the pool of their potential mates? I will leave these issues for the next posts.

TO BE CONTINUED

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10 Responses to Quantification Of Dating Pools Through A Online Dating System.

  1. thegreatshebang says:

    All 4 profiles seem appropriately ranked. The first guy is medium and the other is high or very high. The first girl is medium-high and the second is high. Look forward to the next post although I can see it’s a lot of work to complete. Good luck.

    • sirtyrionlannister says:

      Thanks again. I finished the new online experiment, but I have a lot of other things on my plate at the moment. I’ll post the new dataset when I get a chance. Regards.

  2. tadzio says:

    Wow! And the difference between the high quality man and the medium-high female is incredible too.

    I follow your blog and I think is really interesting (you say the hard truth, and we should always thanks that), but it will be a very good idea to do some of your experiments about low quality men with high quality woman that (probably) have met in a no mating context.

    I have at less two questions about this. I know that they will be intuitions, but I would like to know your opinion. Why these girls chose these boys, even in a not mating contexts? Maybe is easier to get one of this girls when you are not in a pub, but the primal instict is to feel atracted by people of your same rank, even in a small town, and I am sure that these girls have been approached docen times by best looking guys than their current boyfriends.

    And, another question… what make this girls to keep stay with their boyfriend? By my own,no cientifical experience, this kind of couples use to stay long time together… Is some think that I really can not understand. It goes against common sense.

    Congratulations again to your blog.

    • sirtyrionlannister says:

      @ tadzio,

      Thank you for your support. Honestly it is difficult to give an answer, because I would be guessing about pre-relationship dynamics and unknown factors. These factors could be divided into three overlapping classes: environmental (i.e. OSR and population density), social (i.e. socioeconomic status trade offs) and the effect of the male phenotype sampled. Obviously, as you point, I’d bet because these kind of relationships are shaped in a not mating contexts, (i.e. absence of courtship).

      What is clear is that people prefer maximally attractive partners. When localization and mobility outside mating leks is limited, then will increase search time most dramatically for highly attractive individuals. Therefore it may be more difficult to some beautiful girls to quickly find a highly attractive male partner.

      Regarding to second question, maybe that you’re right. Although evolutionary theory would point to the contrary. A strategy that combines “tentative relationships” (i.e. in which the current partner may be opportunistically changed for a better one, are common in humans, especially in the young) with “learning of own attractiveness” seems to be superior to other strategies in terms of reproductive success, which may have advanced it during the course of evolution. A tentative relationship allows the partner to be seen a number of times by the interested individual and frequently also by his/her friends and relatives who may express an opinion about the partner’s attractiveness.

      Both mechanisms may increase the reliability of the partner’s attractiveness evaluation. For example, some studies (White, 1980) did a research to differentiate between the type (and associated longevity) of relationships, observing intra-couple attractiveness correlations of 0.18 for casual dates, compared to the correlation of 0.56 for serious daters and 0.63 for engaged or married couples, respectively. So it is more likely that these mismatches are more common among hookups, casual dating and short-term partners than in long-term couples.

  3. goodgracious says:

    This is very interesting. I think what should be next is black vs white dating. Articles abound about how minorities have it rougher than whites online, particularly on OkCupid which seems to draw its audience from the more college bound, supposedly liberal set. You should have black individuals of relatively equal looks as the white individuals (good-looking, medium, below) and see the responses when they attempt to date inter-racially. This might be a little more extensive than the simple goodlooking vs medium vs low as you would be testing the affects of an additional characteristic on the dating game – that of taboo.

    You should break down the responses (if at all!) by race and looks. i.e. handsome black guy got X many white women and X many minority women vs handsome white guy who got X many white women and X many minority women. Then break down the quality of those women, i.e. handsome black guy got 30 responses from white women but 25 of them were below attractiveness. Then proceed to medium blacks vs. whites. etc. This would prove if the status of minorities is maligned when put into the frame of the dating market i.e. white women treat minorities as they would a “damaged” or “deformed” white man. I suspect that the good-looking blacks will have response rates marginally better than below-average whites, as casual observation in real world partners seems to indicate, but this remains to be proven.

    Doing it this way would also set a precedent to test other races such as Asians, Indians and Mestizos who also have voiced bitterness at the dating situation online. Minorities seeking to integrate through marriage seem especially affected at a time when monetary success has been, through social machinations, been diminished as an attraction set. The so called provider role has been devalued for minorities seeking to use it as compensation for their apparent lower beauty premium in the eyes of attractive females. Accumulating resources seems to not factor into a woman’s choice of mate in the West particularly with young, proportionate and light-skinned females who are in the highest demand by men.

    The females appear to be obsessed with the looks in their men. This in turn hijacks the performance of men, both white and minority, who might have contributed greatly to the society through their innovations, instead finding themselves questioning their high GPAs and scant bargaining power with the opposite sex. With financial cushions (i.e. easy access to student loans, easy access to jobs/credentials etc. etc.) in place young females are able to narrow their affections to only the most aesthetic males and ignore wealth altogether. The bar for wealth has been raised to the point where in order for it to truly make a difference in the decision of the female the man would need enough wealth not to merely buy a house, but to buy Topeka, Kansas!

    • sirtyrionlannister says:

      I appreciate your suggestion about researching racial preferences in mate choice. I already had this idea in my head, though I found some logistical problems for getting photos of men in the top tier of attractiveness. They must be obtained from identifiable sources (e.g. social networks like facebook that does not allow user’s photos can be traced by google image or another systems) and belonging to anonymous people. I ran a pilot test with pictures from a very good looking black man within a dating site, whose photos were extracted from his twitter and Instagram. But the system traced the source and that profile was deleted. Moreover I’ve only found pictures of asian males with a male model physique within some modeling websites. And apart from the aforementioned troubles, profiles must contain only homemade pictures, which does not give rise to suspicion. So if anyone can provide me some pictures with these features and from non-caucasian males I’d appreciate it.

      I agree with most of your subsequent comments. Because of the economically prosperous, systemically mediated welfare state dynamic that prevails in developed world populations, economic and ecological pressures no longer mediate their mate choices to the extant they did in the past. One consequence of this is that erotic capital (physical attractiveness) has supplanted other forms in the stratification of male status with respect to mate availability. So, being a high status male (with respect to mating) now says less about material wealth, than about physical beauty. Things being equal, females will still preferentially mate with males who provide the highest measures of indirect/genetic benefits available to them.

  4. like this says:

    A very informationrmative article and lots of really honest and forthright comments made! This certainly got me thinking about this issue, cheers all.

  5. You actually make it seem so easy with your presentation but
    I find this matter to be really something that I feel I would
    never understand. It seems too complicated and very wide for me.
    I’m taking a look ahead to your subsequent publish, I will try to get the hang of it!

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