Quantitative Marketing and Economics

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 393–427

What makes you click?—Mate preferences in online dating



We estimate mate preferences using a novel data set from an online dating service. The data set contains detailed information on user attributes and the decision to contact a potential mate after viewing his or her profile. This decision provides the basis for our preference estimation approach. A potential problem arises if the site users strategically shade their true preferences. We provide a simple test and a bias correction method for strategic behavior. The main findings are (i) There is no evidence for strategic behavior. (ii) Men and women have a strong preference for similarity along many (but not all) attributes. (iii) In particular, the site users display strong same-race preferences. Race preferences do not differ across users with different age, income, or education levels in the case of women, and differ only slightly in the case of men. For men, but not for women, the revealed same-race preferences correspond to the same-race preference stated in the users’ profile. (iv) There are gender differences in mate preferences; in particular, women have a stronger preference than men for income over physical attributes.


Mate preferences Dating Marriage 

JEL Classification

C78 J12 

Supplementary material

11129_2010_9088_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (223 kb)
Appendix: What Makes You Click? Mate Preferences in Online Dating(PDF 222 KB)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Booth School of BusinessUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Department of EconomicsUniversity of ChicagoChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Fuqua School of BusinessDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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