Online dating mate selection
At the simplest level, one can quantify desirability by the number of messages a user receives and specifically the number of initial messages, since it is the first contact between a pair of individuals that most reliably indicates who finds whom attractive.
Figure 1 shows the distribution of this quantity separately for men and women in each of the cities.
The distribution is roughly consistent across cities, and although women receive more messages than men overall, the distributions for both display a classic “long-tailed” form—most people receive a handful of messages at most, but a small fraction of the population receive far more.
The most popular individual in our four cities, a 30-year-old woman living in New York, received 1504 messages during the period of observation, equivalent to one message every 30 min, day and night, for the entire month.
However, desirability is not only about how many people contact you but also about who those people are.
If you are contacted by people who are themselves desirable, then you are presumptively more desirable yourself.
A scaled rank of 1 denotes the most desirable man or woman in a city by our measure, and 0 denotes the least desirable.
It is important to emphasize that, while we use Page Rank as an operational measure of desirability, we do not assume that users of the website themselves use Page Rank, or anything like it, to identify attractive mates.
To study individual desirability, we focus on messages between users of the website in four cities: New York, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle.A standard measure of this reflected desirability is Page Rank ().Here, we calculate Page Rank scores for the populations within each of our four cities (see the “Network analysis” section) and then rank men and women separately from least to most desirable.We find that both men and women pursue partners who are on average about 25% more desirable than themselves by our measures and that they use different messaging strategies with partners of different desirability.We also find that the probability of receiving a response to an advance drops markedly with increasing difference in desirability between the pursuer and the pursued.
Strategic behaviors can improve one’s chances of attracting a more desirable mate, although the effects are modest.).