Free Dating Sites Data Mining Tells You How to Date Gorgeous Singles

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One of the magical findings of human relationships is that couples tend to match each other in terms of age, education, conception and even attraction. Sociologists and evolutionary biologists have long debated how this result came about. Their theories fall into two camps. One camp is the matching hypothesis: the idea that individuals always somehow know their own popularity and then choose a spouse at the same level.

The other camp is the competition hypothesis. The assumption is that everyone, no matter how attractive they are, will seek the perfect partner on free dating sites. It turns out that the most popular match each other, then the second most popular match each other, and so on. These two hypotheses yield similar results from entirely different types of behavioral analysis. The only way to distinguish between these two hypotheses is to study the mating behavior in detail. The necessary scale of research on this behavior has been difficult to achieve.

That's starting to change today, thanks to the work of Elizabeth Bruch and Mark Newman at the University of Michigan. They mined data from a popular online dating site to try to break the logjam. Their research breakthrough is a new, objective way to measure popularity and rank individuals accordingly. This work provides a powerful new tool for observing the behavior of people looking for objects.

The researchers say this suggests that competition for mates results in a marked difference in personal popularity and that men and women have consistently pursued more desirable partners than they have. The study also points to a simple strategy that increases the chances of success for most people. Let's start with the objective way that Bruch and Newman measure popularity: they say the most popular are clearly the people who are most interested in free dating sites, which can be quantified by the number of messages they receive.

By this measure, the most popular individual in the study was a 30-year-old woman in New York who received 1,504 messages during the month of the study, conducted by Bruch and Newman."That's pretty much the whole month," they said. "you get a message every 30 minutes on average." But popularity also depends not only on the number of messages received but also on the source of those messages."If you're connected to someone who's popular, you should be popular yourself," the researchers said.

If that sounds familiar, it's because it's based on Google's famous PageRank algorithm. The algorithm has been used to rank lists ranging from web pages to Nobel Prize winners. In this study, the PageRank algorithm provided an objective, web-based approach that could be ranked according to the popularity of men and women. Based on this ranking, the study tested the matching hypothesis and the competition hypothesis directly by monitoring whether people were pursuing something similar to their own popularity.

The results of this study are interesting to read."We found that both men and women were looking for someone who was 25 percent more popular than they were on average," said Bruch and Newman."Sending a message to a potential partner who is more popular than you is not a random act, but a normal practice on free dating sites." This approach is not without its flaws. As the popularity gap grows, the probability of receiving a reply drops sharply. It's not hard to imagine that people contacting more popular people should send messages to each other more frequently to increase their chances of getting a response.

"In fact, people do the opposite: the number of the first contact per person drops rapidly as the gap widens, and people who reach out to potential partners who are less popular send the most messages," Bruch and Newman said. As a result, people are clearly adopting different strategies to approach potential partners with high and low popularity ratings. In fact, the researchers say, people spend the most time writing information to more popular subjects, and the content is more individualized -- in a way that is closer in quality than quantity.

The team also used sentiment analysis to study the content of the messages. Curiously, they found that women tended to use more positive words in messages addressed to men they liked, while men used fewer positive words. This can be the result of experiential learning."When men sent messages using more positive words, the response rate was slightly lower," Bruch and Newman said. Whether these different strategies will work is unclear."The relatively small change in the benefits of different strategies suggests that all else being equal, spending more time or writing more positive information can be a waste of effort," they said.

It's an interesting study, but not much to do with offline dating. Online dating, which offers a large number of potential partners, has a lower threshold for sending messages, a big difference from the offline world. However, the results provide some important insights. As for the matching hypothesis and the competition hypothesis, the evidence suggests that people use both methods to find a partner."People can be aware of how popular they are and adjust their behavior accordingly, while appropriately wooing a more desirable partner," said Bruch and Newman. "Our results are consistent with the popular concept of dating 'levels', where some people are' not on the same level as you '."

The results also suggest an obvious strategy to attract someone you want to reach out to. Bruch and Newman say the chances of getting a response from a very desirable object are slim, but not equal to no. Therefore, the best strategy should be to send more messages to very popular objects and be prepared to wait longer."Texting two to three times as many potential partners to get a date seems like a small investment," the researchers said.