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11 Results from Studies About Online Dating

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istock

With more and more people relying on online dating to meet a partner, the act of online dating also gets studied more and more. Here are 11 revelations from recent studies.

1. 81 percent of people lie about their height, weight, or age in their online dating profiles.

This phenomenon was observed in a study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The researchers weighed and measured subjects in addition to checking their driver’s licenses for their actual ages, then looked at their subjects’ online dating profiles. Women tended to claim that they were 8.5 pounds lighter than they actually were. Men lied by less—only two pounds—but rounded up their height by a half inch more often. People lied the least when it came to age.

2. People who have the word “love” in their profiles are more likely to find love.

This year, the dating site PlentyofFish conducted a study in which scientists examined word choice in all 1.2 million dating profiles on the site. In addition to the observation that those who used the word “love” more were more successful in finding it, the researchers discovered that men benefitted from using the words “heart,” “children,” “romantic,” and “relationship.”

3. Men spend 50 percent less time reading online dating profiles than women.

In 2012, the research company AnswerLab conducted a study in which they used a Tobii X1 Light Eye Tracker, which recorded the eye movements of subjects who were reading online dating profiles from Match.com and eHarmony.com. By doing this, they were able determine where men and women were actually looking while reading online dating profiles. As it happens, men spend 65 percent more time looking at the pictures in the profile than women do.

4. Race and class are the most important factors to online daters.

In September, BuzzFeed ran an experiment in which one of their writers built a mock-Tinder with stock photos. She found that when someone viewed the person in the Tinder profile picture as “working-class,” they would swipe “yes” 13 percent of the time. But, when they considered the person “middle-class,” they swiped “yes” between 36 and 39 percent of the time. The study also found that people preferred a potential partner to be of mixed or ambiguous race instead of a blatantly different race than their own. OkCupid co-founder, Christian Rudder, confirmed her findings. He noted, “When you’re looking at how two American strangers behave in a romantic context, race is the ultimate confounding factor.”

A recent study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences does note that this phenomenon isn’t as bad as it might seem. According to the researchers at the University of California San Diego, the majority of heterosexuals on OKCupid did contact people of another race or at least answer messages from them.

5. The algorithms can’t predict whether two people are compatible.

A group of U.S. psychology professors collaborated on a report, describing the faults of online dating, which was published in the journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest in 2012. The dating sites wouldn't share their specific algorithms with the researchers, but the professors stated that the sites couldn’t predict whether a relationship would last just because two people had similar interests and personalities. According to Professor Eli Finkel, who worked on the report, "We reviewed the literature and feel safe to conclude they do not [work]."

6. One-third of online daters never go on dates with people they meet online.

This surprising statistic comes from a survey conducted in late 2013 by the Pew Research Center. Even more surprising, this is actually a significantly lower number than it used to be. In 2005, over half of people with online dating profiles never went on an in-person date with someone they had met on the site.

7. Women who don’t drink receive 24 percent fewer messages than women who do.

PlentyOfFish put together graphics describing the most “desirable singles of 2014,” based on what they observed heterosexual online daters liked in the opposite sex; the site claimed that women are more likely to get messages if they are Catholic, have a dog, earn more than $25,000, and don’t have a masters degree. Men get more messages if they are Christian, brunette, high-earners, and PhDs.

8. 30 percent of women consult with a friend about their profile. Only 16 percent of men do.

This accounts for a total of 22 percent of people with online dating profiles who ask a friend “to help them create or review their profile,” according to the Pew Research Center.

9. Couples who meet online are more likely to break up.

A recent study that claims couples who met on dating sites are less likely to get married has been getting a lot of traction on the Internet. Researchers from Stanford University and Michigan State University surveyed more than 4000 people and they learned that breakups were more common in couples who met online versus offline. They claim that the phenomenon holds true for both married and unmarried couples.

10. On the flip side: Couples who meet online are less likely to divorce.

Obviously this phenomenon needs to be studied a little more. A 2013 study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that 35 percent of the 20,000 people who responded to a survey met their spouse online. The study also contradicts the Stanford and Michigan State study by claiming that couples who met online have a 6 percent separation and divorce rate whereas couples who met offline have an 8 percent rate. (It’s worth noting that the study was funded by eHarmony.)

11. Online dating saves people $6400.

If you believe that people do marry sooner when they use online dating, then you can also believe that online dating saves you money. A group of researchers at ConvergEx Group calculated that couples who meet online get married after 18.5 months, on average. Couples who don’t meet online, on the other hand, wait an average of 42 months before marrying. ConvergEx group factored in $130 per week for dates, making total cost $23,660 versus $12,803. If the pair is splitting bills, that’s around $6400 each saved before marriage.

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
May 21, 2017
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Opening Ceremony
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These $425 Jeans Can Turn Into Jorts
May 19, 2017
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Opening Ceremony

Modular clothing used to consist of something simple, like a reversible jacket. Today, it’s a $425 pair of detachable jeans.

Apparel retailer Opening Ceremony recently debuted a pair of “2 in 1 Y/Project” trousers that look fairly peculiar. The legs are held to the crotch by a pair of loops, creating a disjointed C-3PO effect. Undo the loops and you can now remove the legs entirely, leaving a pair of jean shorts in their wake. The result goes from this:

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Opening Ceremony

To this:

501069-OpeningCeremony3.jpg

Opening Ceremony

The company also offers a slightly different cut with button tabs in black for $460. If these aren’t audacious enough for you, the Y/Project line includes jumpsuits with removable legs and garter-equipped jeans.

[h/t Mashable]

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