Millions of people use online dating sites each day, scanning through streams of face images in search of an attractive mate. Face images, like most visual stimuli, undergo processes whereby the current percept is altered by exposure to previous visual input. Recent studies using rapid sequences of faces have found that perception of face identity is biased towards recently seen faces, promoting identity-invariance over time, and this has been extended to perceived face attractiveness. In this paper we adapt the rapid sequence task to ask a question about mate selection pertinent in the digital age. We designed a binary task mimicking the selection interface currently popular in online dating websites in which observers typically make binary decisions (attractive or unattractive) about each face in a sequence of unfamiliar faces. Our findings show that binary attractiveness decisions are not independent: we are more likely to rate a face as attractive when the preceding face was attractive than when it was unattractive.
Delegates at scientific meetings can come from diverse backgrounds and use very different methods in their research. Promoting interactions between these ‘distant’ delegates is challenging but such interactions could lead to novel interdisciplinary collaborations and unexpected breakthroughs. We have developed a network-based ‘speed dating’ approach that allows us to initiate such distant interactions by pairing every delegate with another delegate who might be of interest to them, but whom they might never have encountered otherwise. Here we describe our approach and its algorithmic implementation.
Matchmaking companies and theoretical perspectives on close relationships suggest that initial attraction is, to some extent, a product of two people’s self-reported traits and preferences. We used machine learning to test how well such measures predict people’s overall tendencies to romantically desire other people (actor variance) and to be desired by other people (partner variance), as well as people’s desire for specific partners above and beyond actor and partner variance (relationship variance). In two speed-dating studies, romantically unattached individuals completed more than 100 self-report measures about traits and preferences that past researchers have identified as being relevant to mate selection. Each participant met each opposite-sex participant attending a speed-dating event for a 4-min speed date. Random forests models predicted 4% to 18% of actor variance and 7% to 27% of partner variance; crucially, however, they were unable to predict relationship variance using any combination of traits and preferences reported before the dates. These results suggest that compatibility elements of human mating are challenging to predict before two people meet.
The online dating romance scam is an Advance Fee Fraud, typically conducted by international criminal groups via online dating sites and social networking sites. This type of mass-marketing fraud (MMF) is the most frequently reported type of MMF in most Western countries. This study examined the psychological characteristics of romance scam victims by comparing romance scam victims with those who had never been scammed by MMFs. Romance scam victims tend to be middle-aged, well-educated women. Moreover, they tend to be more impulsive (scoring high on urgency and sensation seeking), less kind, more trustworthy, and have an addictive disposition. It is argued here that these findings might be useful for those developing prevention programs and awareness campaigns.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published over 6 years ago
The racial segregation of romantic networks has been documented by social scientists for generations. However, because of limitations in available data, we still have a surprisingly basic idea of the extent to which this pattern is generated by actual interpersonal prejudice as opposed to structural constraints on meeting opportunities, how severe this prejudice is, and the circumstances under which it can be reduced. I analyzed a network of messages sent and received among 126,134 users of a popular online dating site over a 2.5-mo period. As in face-to-face interaction, online exchanges are structured heavily by race. Even when controlling for regional differences in meeting opportunities, site users-especially minority site users-disproportionately message other users from the same racial background. However, this high degree of self-segregation peaks at the first stage of contact. First, users from all racial backgrounds are equally likely or more likely to cross a racial boundary when reciprocating than when initiating romantic interest. Second, users who receive a cross-race message initiate more new interracial exchanges in the future than they would have otherwise. This effect varies by gender, racial background, and site experience; is specific to the racial background of the original sender; requires that the recipient replied to the original message; and diminishes after a week. In contrast to prior research on relationship outcomes, these findings shed light on the complex interactional dynamics that-under certain circumstances-may amplify the effects of racial boundary crossing and foster greater interracial mixing.
Previous research has shown that men with higher facial width-to-height ratios (fWHRs) have higher testosterone and are more aggressive, more powerful, and more financially successful. We tested whether they are also more attractive to women in the ecologically valid mating context of speed dating. Men’s fWHR was positively associated with their perceived dominance, likelihood of being chosen for a second date, and attractiveness to women for short-term, but not long-term, relationships. Perceived dominance (by itself and through physical attractiveness) mediated the relationship between fWHR and attractiveness to women for short-term relationships. Furthermore, men’s perceptions of their own dominance showed patterns of association with mating desirability similar to those of fWHR. These results support the idea that fWHR is a physical marker of dominance. This is the first study to show that male dominance and higher fWHRs are attractive to women for short-term relationships in a controlled and interactive situation that could actually lead to mating and dating.
First impressions of social traits, such as attractiveness, from faces are often claimed to be made automatically, given their speed and reliability. However, speed of processing is only one aspect of automaticity. Here we address a further aspect, asking whether impression formation is mandatory. Mandatory formation requires that impressions are formed about social traits even when this is task-irrelevant, and that once formed, these impressions are difficult to inhibit. In two experiments, participants learned what new people looked like for the purpose of future identification, from sets of images high or low in attractiveness. They then rated middle-attractiveness images of each person, for attractiveness. Even though instructed to rate the specific images, not the people, their ratings were biased by the attractiveness of the learned images. A third control experiment, with participants rating names, demonstrated that participants in Experiments 1 and 2 were not simply rating the people, rather than the specific images as instructed. These results show that the formation of attractiveness impressions from faces is mandatory, thus broadening the evidence for automaticity of facial impressions. The mandatory formation of impressions is likely to have an important impact in real-world situations such as online dating sites.
This study explores factors that influence matches of online dating participants' stated preference for particular characteristics in a potential partner and compares these with the characteristics of the online daters actually contacted. The nature of online dating facilitates exploration of the differences between stated preference and actual choice by participants, as online daters willingly provide a range of demographics on their ideal partner. Using data from the Australian dating website RSVP, we analyze 219,013 contact decisions. We conduct a multivariate analysis using the number of matched variables between the participants' stated preference and the characteristics of the individuals contacted. We find that factors such as a person’s age, their education level, and a more social personality all increase the number of factors they choose in a potential partner that match their original stated preference. Males (relative to females) appear to match fewer characteristics when contacting potential love interests. Conversely, age interaction effects demonstrate that males in their late 60’s are increasingly more selective (than females) regarding who they contact. An understanding of how technology (the Internet) is impacting human mating patterns and the psychology behind the participants informs the wider social science of human behavior in large-scale decision settings.
Abstract Although social networking sites (SNS) have become increasingly prevalent and integrated into the lives of users, the role of SNS in courtship is relatively unknown. The present manuscript reports on the characteristics of Americans married between 2005 and 2012 who met through SNS drawn from a weighted national sample (N=18,527). Compared to other online meetings (i.e., dating sites, online communities, one-on-one communication), individuals who met through SNS were younger, married more recently, and were more likely to be African American. Compared with offline meetings, individuals who met through SNS were more likely to be younger, male, African American and Hispanic, married more recently, and frequent Internet users with higher incomes. Trends suggest an increasing proportion of individuals are meeting using SNS, necessitating further research on factors that influence romantic relational development through SNS.
- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
- Published over 3 years ago
This paper presents a statistical framework for harnessing online activity data to better understand how people make decisions. Building on insights from cognitive science and decision theory, we develop a discrete choice model that allows for exploratory behavior and multiple stages of decision making, with different rules enacted at each stage. Critically, the approach can identify if and when people invoke noncompensatory screeners that eliminate large swaths of alternatives from detailed consideration. The model is estimated using deidentified activity data on 1.1 million browsing and writing decisions observed on an online dating site. We find that mate seekers enact screeners (“deal breakers”) that encode acceptability cutoffs. A nonparametric account of heterogeneity reveals that, even after controlling for a host of observable attributes, mate evaluation differs across decision stages as well as across identified groupings of men and women. Our statistical framework can be widely applied in analyzing large-scale data on multistage choices, which typify searches for “big ticket” items.