Quantitative Marketing and Economics

, Volume 8, Issue 4, pp 393–427 | Cite as

What makes you click?—Mate preferences in online dating

Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

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)

References

  1. Adachi, H. (2003). A search model of two-sided matching under nontransferable utility. Journal of Economic Theory, 113, 182–198.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Banerjee, A. V., Duflo, E., Ghatak, M., & Lafortune, J. (2009). Marry for what? Caste and mate selection in modern India. Manuscript (MIT)Google Scholar
  3. Becker, G. S. (1973). A theory of marriage: Part I. Journal of Political Economy, 81(4), 813–846.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Biddle, J. E., & Hamermesh, D. S. (1998). Beauty, productivity, and discrimination: Lawyers’ looks and lucre. Journal of Labor Economics, 16(1), 172–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Browning, M., Chiappori, P.-A., Weiss, Y. (2008). The economics of the family. http://www.tau.ac.il/~weiss/fam_econ/.
  6. Burdett, K., & Coles, M. G. (1997). Marriage and class. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112(1), 141–168.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Buss, D. M. (1989). Sex differences in human mate preferences: Evolutionary hypotheses tested in 37 cultures. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 12, 1–49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Buss, D. M. (1995). The evolution of desire: Strategies of human mating. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  9. Buss, D. M., & Schmitt, D. P. (1993). Sexual strategies theory: An evolutionary perspective on human mating. Psychological Review, 100(2), 204–232.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Choo, E., & Siow, A. (2006). Who marries whom and why. Journal of Political Economy, 114 (1), 175–201.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Eagly, A. H., & Wood, W. (1999). The origins of sex differences in human behavior. American Psychologist, 54(6), 408–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Eastwick, P. W., Finkel, E. J. (2008). Sex differences in mate preferences revisited: Do people know what they initially desire in a romantic partner? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(2), 245–264.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Eastwick, P. W., & Finkel, E. J., Richeson, J. A., Son, D., & Finkel, E. J. (2009). Is love colorblind? Political orientation and interracial romantic desire. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(9), 1258–1268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Etcoff, N. (1999). Survival of the prettiest: The science of beauty. New York: Doubleday Books.Google Scholar
  15. Finkel, E. J., & R. F. Baumeister (2010). Attraction and rejection. In R. F. Baumeister & E. J. Finkel (Eds.), Advanced social psychology. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Fisman, R., Iyengar, S. S., Kamenica, E., & Simonson, I. (2006). Gender differences in mate selection: Evidence from a speed dating experiment. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 2, 673–697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fisman, R., Iyengar, S. S., Kamenica, E., & Simonson, I. (2008). Racial preferences in dating. Review of Economic Studies, 75, 117–132.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Gillis, J. S., & Avis, W. E. (1980). The male-taller norm in mate selection. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 6(3), 396–401.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Goldberger, A. S. (1983). Abnormal selection bias. In S. Karlin, T. Amemiya, & L. A. Goodman (Eds.), Studies in econometrics, time series, and multivariate statistics. New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  20. Hamermesh, D. S., & Biddle, J. E. (1994). Beauty and the labor market. American Economic Review, 84(5), 1174–1194.Google Scholar
  21. Heckman, J. J. (1979). Sample selection bias as specification error. Econometrica, 47(1), 153–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Heckman, J. J. (1990). Varieties of selection bias. American Economic Review, 80(2), 313–318.Google Scholar
  23. Hitsch, G. J., Hortaçsu, A., & Ariely, D. (2010). Matching and sorting in online dating. American Economic Review, 100(1), 130–163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Kalmijn, M. (1998). Intermarriage and homogamy: Causes, patterns, trends. Annual Review of Sociology, 24, 395–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Kenrick, D. T., & Keefe, R. C. (1992). Age preferences in mates reflect sex differences in human reproductive strategies. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 15, 75–133.Google Scholar
  26. Kurzban, R., & Weeden, J. (2005). HurryDate: Mate preferences in action. Evolution and Human Behavior, 26, 227–244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Langlois, J. H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A. J., Larson, A., Hallam, M., & Smoot, M. (2000). Maxims or myths of beauty? A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, 126(3), 390–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Lee, S. (2009). Marriage and online mate search services: Evidence from South Korea. manuscript (University of Maryland).Google Scholar
  29. Little, R. J. A. (1985). A note about models for selectivity bias. Econometrica, 53(6), 1469–1474.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Maisey, D. S., Vale, E. L. E., Cornelissen, P. L., & Tovée, M. J. (1999). Characteristics of male attractiveness for women. Lancet, 353, 1500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Nettle, D. (2002). Women’s height, reproductive success and the evolution of sexual dimorphism in modern humans. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 269, 1919–1923.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Newey, W. K., Powell, J. L., & Walker, J. R. (1990). Semiparametric estimation of selection models: Some empirical results. American Economic Review, 80(2), 324–328.Google Scholar
  33. Pawlowski, B., Dunbar, R. I. M., & Lipowicz, A. (2000). Tall men have more reproductive success. Nature, 403, 156.Google Scholar
  34. Regan, P. C., Levin, L., Sprecher, S., Christopher, F. S., & Gate, R. (2000). Partner preferences: What characteristics do men and women desire in their short-term sexual and long-run romantic partners? Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality, 12(3), 1–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Sprecher, S., Sullivan, Q., & Hatfield, E. (1994). Mate selection preferences: Gender differences examined in a national sample. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66(6), 1074–1080.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Todd, P. M., Penke, L., Fasolo, B., & Lenton, A. P. (2007). Different cognitive processes underlie human mate choices and mate preferences. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104(38), 15011–15016.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Tovée, M. J., Reinhardt, S., Emery, J. L., & Cornelissen, P. L. (1998). Optimum body-mass index and maximum sexual attractiveness. Lancet, 352, 548.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Wong, L. Y. (2003). Structural estimation of marriage models. Journal of Labor Economics, 21(3), 699–727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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

Personalised recommendations