Here's Another Reason to Avoid Online Dating Sites

Posted by Kelleher International on Aug 8, 2014 9:44:00 AM

scientists in front of chalkboard (Kelleher International)

OkCupid made headlines last week when the news came out that the popular dating website was running experiments on its subscribers without their consent, much in the same way that Facebook was. For those unfamiliar with online dating sites like OkCupid, romantic matches are made by a computer algorithm that determines the compatibility of users with each other. In order to test the effectiveness of the OkCupid algorithm, the company completed several experiments to see how people approach online dating. The President of the company, Christian Rudder, wrote a blog post on OkCupid and noted that, in this particular experiment, "When we tell people they are a good match, they act as if they are. Even when they should be wrong for each other."

In the first experiment, the site told couples that they were a 90 percent match, but in reality, they were only a 30 percent match. Most of these pairs actually did contact one another to attempt to pursue the match. Conversely, couples that would have made a good match were told that they would be a bad match. Interestingly, many of these people did contact one another, but not as many as the ones who were told they were a good match.

The next experiment asked OkCupid subscribers to rate the personalities and physical appearances of other users based solely on their profiles. The resulting data pointed to the idea that human perception of personality is based on physical appearance. Attractive-looking users that had no text in their profile received higher ratings for their personality than the users whose profiles contained text and a photo. Rudder's analysis of the experiment was fairly concise:


driftwood-clutching-lady In short, according to our users, "looks" and "personality" were the same thing, which of course makes perfect sense because, you know, this young female account holder, with a 99th percentile personality... and whose profile, by the way, contained no text, is just so obviously a really cool person to hang out and talk to and clutch driftwood with.

In the final experiment, OkCupid hid all profile pictures for a period of seven hours on the site. During that time, it was found that people responded to first messages 44 percent more often than they did when profile pictures were showing. In addition, those 2,200 people who connected during this period exchanged personal contact details quicker, and the pairs remained in deeper conversations for much longer. When the photos were restored seven hours later, those conversations quickly began to die off. Rudder summed it up like this, "Those conversations melted away. The goodness was gone, in fact worse than gone. It was like we'd turned on the bright lights at the bar at midnight."

While it is troubling that this popular online dating website stooped to running experiments on and collecting data from its users without their consent, the response Rudder gave in his blog post to the experiments is even more troubling. He writes:

I'm the first to admit it: we might be popular, we might create a lot of great relationships, we might blah blah blah. But OkCupid doesn't really know what it's doing. Neither does any other website. It's not like people have been building these things for very long, or you can go look up a blueprint or something. Most ideas are bad. Even good ideas could be better. Experiments are how you sort all this out.

While online dating is certainly a new concept, matchmaking is not. There are some things that are better left up to the human mind rather than a computer algorithm, such as finding a compatible soulmate for someone who is ready for love. OkCupid told us about their experiments, but it is likely that other online dating websites are doing the exact same thing, but without making them public. This is why it is so important to trust an experienced matchmaker who knows what they are doing to find you the love of your life.

Don't trust your love life to a computer. Kelleher International was founded on the premise that there is a great match out there for everyone. If you are tired of looking for love and striking out, please email Kelleher International or call us at (415)332-4111 today.

Topics: Dating

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