The dubious science of online dating
The formula errs on the conservative side, always showing you the lowest possible match percentage you could have with someone.It also provides an enemy percentage, which is—confusingly—computed without the weighting, meaning it represents a raw percentage of incompatible answers.“Ok Cupid is premised on this great notion that we know what we want,” he said, “but we often have no idea what makes for chemistry or compatibility.” The algorithm, in other words, is geared to find you someone who’s like you—all those political questions, say, on which your ideal match would share your values—which isn’t necessarily the same as a desirable long-term partner. So, come Valentine’s Day, remember to remember the grim reality: Since the rise of online dating in the early 2000s, research by sociologists, most notably a large-scale 2012 study published by the Association for Psychological Science, has consistently found that matching algorithms, no matter how sophisticated, just do not work.Meeting up with a 99 percent match for cocktails, in other words, is sort of like gazing in a mirror on a good hair day, which may explain why the looks-first model employed by Tinder is winning with tech-savvy younger users. Indeed, the authors of that study wrote, “no compelling evidence supports matching sites’ claims that mathematical algorithms work—that they foster romantic outcomes that are superior to those fostered by other means of pairing partners.” The feel-good principles on which these search-methods are grounded—similarity of values, complementarity of sexual preference—are, sorry to be a killjoy, actually rather poor predictors of subjectively rated romantic success.I called Lewis from the third-floor Somerville, Massachusetts apartment that used to belong to my ex-girlfriend and me, a young woman I met on Ok Cupid. Looking back on our two-year relationship from that dreary place—I would move out in less than a month’s time—I felt eaten alive by pain and regret.Never having met each other, I thought, would have been preferable to what actually happened. K, in fact, was just one in a series of several attempts to salve the heart wound that resulted from the -so-serendipitous union with my 99 percent match.
However, according to sociologist Kevin Lewis, a professor at the University of California, San Diego, there’s no evidence that a high match percentage reliably translates into a successful relationship.
” or “Would you rather be tied up during sex or do the tying?
”—you input both your answer and the answers you’ll accept from a potential love interest.
Ok Cupid’s algorithm calculates match percentage by comparing answers to “match questions,” which cover such potentially deal-breaking topics as religion, politics, lifestyle, and—I mean, let’s be honest, most importantly—sex.
For each question—say, “Do you like the taste of beer?
“So, with Ok Cupid, you tell them what you want, and they’ll find your soul mate.