A new study has revealed that a majority of online daters seek out partners who are more desirable than themselves.
The analysis performed by Santa Fe Institute revealed that hierarchies of desirability or 'leagues' emerge in anonymized data from online dating networks. The majority of people in these dating networks contact prospects who are 25 per cent or more desirable than themselves. They also tend to tailor their messaging strategies, sending relatively longer messages to contacts who are further up the hierarchy.
To rate users' desirability, the researchers used a ranking algorithm based on the number of messages a person receives and the desirability of the senders.
"If you are contacted by people who are themselves desirable, then you are presumably more desirable yourself. Rather than relying on guesses about what people find attractive, this approach allows us to define desirability in terms of who is receiving the most attention and from whom," said co-author of the study, Mark Newman.
The researchers applied the algorithm to data from users of a dating website in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle. Among other things, it reveals how people behave strategically during online courtship by altering the length and number of messages they send to individuals at different levels of desirability.
The study also shows that sending longer messages to more desirable prospects may not be particularly helpful, though it's a common strategy. Of the four cities analyzed, the notable exception was from only one, where the researchers did observe a payoff for writing longer messages. In other locations, longer messages did not appear to increase a person's chances of receiving a reply.
So, if messages are the measure of desire, what prompts people to hit the 'send' button? When the researchers compared desirability scores against user attributes, they found correlations between age, education level, and ethnicity.
Though the study affirms that many people are making choices that align with popular stereotypes, researchers stressed that this is not a rule that holds for all individuals.
They also emphasized that this is just the first, and perhaps shallowest, the phase of courtship.
The findings appeared in the Journal of Science Advances.
(With ANI Inputs)
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