OkCupid first started matching couples in 2004, long before dating apps like Tinder were pulling in tens of millions users a day. Since then, the world of online dating has become revolutionized, not just because people can get on OkCupid without computer access, but also in the way finding love on the internet has lost much of its negative stigma. Even studies show that meeting your significant other through sites like OkCupid is now the second most common way to start a relationship.
With so much traffic, OkCupid has been able to cull massive amounts of data to reach some fascinating conclusions about the laws of attraction. One of which, says OkCupid co-founder Christian Rudder, is that people are pretty racist when selecting what profiles they are going to respond to. Even though people are unlikely to say they are closed-off to interracial dating in OkCupid’s questionnaire, aggregate site activity tells a different story.
“The racial picture isn’t the most pleasant one. It’s definitely what you’d expect if you were a cynical person. Black men and women get about a 25 percent discount in terms of the replies they get from other users, volume of message they get, ratings they get — and that’s not just from whites but also Asian and Latino voters.”
Discrimination isn’t the only way that race plays into OkCupid’s romance chasing. Christian has also made some bizarrely stereotypical discoveries about what phrases are the most commonly found in each racial category’s information. White men commonly say they enjoy hunting and fishing, black men “dreads” and “neo-soul,” and Asian men “tall for an Asian.”
But race isn’t the only jarring instance of discrimination that OkCupid’s users face. Although women tend to respond to profiles that are closer to their own age, men consistently respond the most to women in their early 20s — even when they have reached their 50s.
One of OkCupid’s biggest challenges, says Rudder, is finding way to get the site to work around the high amount of traffic that the most attractive people get. Too many messages, and perfect-looking people deactivate their profiles; too few message, and those who aren’t among the beautiful elite get discouraged. From a business perspective, redistributing the attention is the primary purpose of Christian’s analysis of OkCupid’s data, but the company also sees the value of it as a sociological experiment.
“What we get are basically the data of the first impression… The things we have to kind of grind out findings from are just huge tables, imagine like a text file that never ends. [In that way] it’s like a social science experiment.”
Have your OkCupid experiences lined up with the company’s aggregate data findings?
[Image via Flickr]