11 Results from Studies About Online Dating

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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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October 17, 2014 - 8:00am
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