I listened to the book “Freakonomics” by Steven Levitt and Stephen
Dubner. It’s interesting. It’s a book about … well, it’s
not really about anything. It’s a pair of economists looking at
the world through the lens of microeconomics. How does
“incentive” shape the world around us.
There’s a bit in chapter 2 about online dating sites. Like so many
other things, it’s all about risk, reward, supply, demand. Levitt
and Dubner cite the online dating research of three guys whose names I
can’t spell. Well, I can spell Gunther Hitch’s name but that’s
the only one.
With a sample of 30,000 people they found, in part, the following:
57% were men and 43% women. The median age range was 26-35 and
they were predominantly white. A number of people have asked me
if I’ve tried online dating sites since I’m prone to complaining about
my social life on occasion. Yes and it’s frustrating. Many
things in the book regarding other subjects are counter-intuitive but
this part …. Anyway, I thought this stuff was interesting.
28% of women said they were blonde, which adds up to a lot of hair dying or lying, as the authors put it.
8% of men said they were married and 1/2 of those 8% said that they were happily
married. Although, very few of them — some 9 of two hundred and
something — actually posted pictures with their online profiles.
Not posting a photo almost guarantees failure, by the way.
Men got 1/4th the response compared to those who posted pictures.
Women got 1/6th the response compared to those who posted pictures.
What the numbers say, for example, is that an overweight, balding,
middle-aged man with a below average salary stands a better chance of
getting a response than an attractive man with a $200,000+ salary if
the latter doesn’t include a photo.
57% of men don’t get a response
23% of women don’t get a response
Overall, the research showed that many stereotypes are accurate:
Men who say they’re looking for long-term relationships do best, whereas…
Women who are looking for a casual relationship do best.
For men, it’s important for them to have good looks and a high
income. Being short for a man is a severe disadvantage but weight
doesn’t seem to matter that much. Being bald or having red or
curly hair is bad. Shaven heads are okay, though.
Men want to date: students, artists, musicians, veterinarians, celebrities.
Men avoid: secretaries, retirees, military, and law enforcement.
When it comes to women: income is a bell-shaped curve. In other words,
men don’t want a woman who makes too little but if they make “too much”
men are intimidated or turned off. An overweight woman is at a
severe disadvantage. Salt and pepper hair is bad for a
woman. Blonde hair is very good. Statistically speaking
(with regard to the microeconomics of online dating), “blonde hair on a
woman is worth the same as a college degree.”
Keep in mind that these observations are based on what people actually
do and not what they say they’d do. A point that I found
particularly interesting is that 50% of white women and 80% of white
men say in their profiles that race doesn’t matter. However — do
you see this coming? — white men write 90% of their emails to white
women. White women write 97% of their emails to white men.