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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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).
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.
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 female profile:
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:
Table of collected results:
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