Attract, Convert and Retain members: Advisory calls and Dating Site Startup Bootcamp & Consulting Services Sign Up Today

An Analysis of Online Dating Behavior

This is a few years old but An Analysis of Behavior in Online Dating Systems looks like a good read. Written by Andrew Fiore when he was at MIT, here’s the abstract.

Online personal advertisements have shed their stigma as matchmakers for the awkward to claim a prominent role in the social lives of millions of people. Web sites for online dating allow users to post lengthy personal ads, including text and photos; search the database of users for potential romantic partners; and contact other users through a private messaging system. This work begins with psychological and sociological perspectives on online dating and discusses the various types of online dating Web sites. Next, it presents an analysis of user behavior on one site in particular, which has more than 57,000 active users from the United States and Canada. A demographic description of the population is given, and then 250,000 messages exchanged by the active users over an eight-month period are analyzed. An examination of which characteristics are “bounding” finds that life course attributes such as marital status and whether one wants children are most likely to be the same across the two users in a dyadic interaction. To understand which characteristics are important to users in deciding whom to contact, regression models show the relative strength of a variety of attributes in predicting how many messages a user with those attributes will receive. By far the strongest predictor of messages receivedis the number of messages sent. For men, age, educational level, and self-rated physical attractiveness are the next most important qualities. For women, they are not being overweight, self-rated physical attractiveness, and having a photo. Finally, a discussion of the design implications of these findings and other design issues follow the results.

[tags: dating thesis]

Dating Industry Advisory Services

Are you a dating site startup looking to make a splash or an established player in the marketplace looking for answers? Online Dating Insider Advisory Services focus on product development, revenue generation, site traffic, site reviews and *much* more. Contact us to learn more.


  1. Fernando Ardenghi says:

    The thesis’ name is “An Analysis of Behavior in Online Dating Systems”
    but it was only “Analysis of Behavior on ONE Dating System” (page 30)
    Nonetheless it is interesting to read it with care.
    The conclusions were taken from a dating site (date research from June 2002 to February 2003) with 52857 “active members” over a total of 221800 members. The median age was 34 years old (page 38).

    The findings: “Users opted for sameness more often than chance would predict in all the characteristics examined in this section. This concurs with the overwhelming evidence gathered by relationship researchers …… that actual similarity and perceived similarity in demographics, attitudes, values, and attractiveness correlate with attraction (and, later, relationship satisfaction). However, users demonstrate this homophily to differing degrees for different characteristics.” (page 47)

    Nonetheless more valuable than the information provided is THE WAY research was conducted and fig. 2.1 at page 37, fig. 2.6 at page 54 and fig. B.13 at page 90.

    As the author says on page 62 ” My exploration of behavior in online dating environments raises more questions than it answers. Each statistic begs for comparison with other online dating systems, with different populations and different interactional tools. The numerical results have human stories behind them that will require a complementary qualitative approach to unravel.
    Of course, the real question is what people are looking for in a partner, whether for a night, a date, or a lifetime. Online dating systems provide a copious amount of raw behavioral data that might improve our understanding of people’s complex goals in this arena, which will in turn help us improve the systems themselves.”

    Kindest Regards,

    Fernando Ardenghi.
    Buenos Aires.

  2. For Love or Lying

    In recent years online relationships have grown immensely on the web. In the early 90’s, these sites were not as popular due to the fact that very few single women had computer access and created online profiles of themselves on dating websites. This left an abundance of men searching through a minuscule number of females. Then in 1998 came the blockbuster hit, “You’ve Got Mail�. The romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks who find each other through an Internet relationship. Since the popularity of the movie, and more people with online access, online dating is now a multi-million dollar business. According to America Internet Usage and Statistics website there are over 973 million Internet users worldwide, up from a mere 3 million in 1994. (Internet World Stats, Internet Usage in America) Because of relatively new technology, users of the Internet are becoming exposed to the world wide web of Internet relationships. Because these relationships only exist in cyberspace, they are much different from genuine relationships in the real world. A person’s conduct or behavior may be far different they how they would act in the real world. This is because users can remain anonymous and reveal very little personal information. Since their are no real repercussions from their behavior online, people may feel free to express their feelings on a deeper level even though they may never meet face to face. People may also create fictitious profiles of themselves in order to fill a void that is missing in real life. User’s of these dating sites should display prudence when viewing all user-based internet citations or profiles as there is no method of confirming the identity’s of the user who generate their own personal content. The Internet will continue to revolutionize the way people communicate in the future and possibly alter our view of online love.
    The idea of entering a chat room and using a nickname to talk with members of the opposite sex is extremely inviting to many people. Many people find it exciting to troll the Internet for romantic possibilities because they can do so with out having to reveal one’s true identity or much personal information. People also enjoy the secrecy that an Internet relationship provides. An Internet romance can be carried out from home or office without the knowledge of others, thus many married people browse the net. There are many types of romantic relationships on the Internet. Some people are content with having an ongoing relationship with someone that they will never meet in the real world. On the other hand, there are others who eventually carry out their love and transfer their relationship from cyber-space to reality. Many net relationships are the results of specific needs not being met in their offline relationships. An interesting element of Internet relationships is that they give both parties an advantage that they do not have in the real world. Internet daters can get to know one another without the fear of being rejected due to physical characteristics. This may be especially inviting to women due to the tendency of men to judge solely by looks. As a virtual relationships progresses, the need to see what each other looks like becomes a more important factor. Photos can be sent by e-mail, assuming that the users are using genuine photos. But the sender is still control of how he/she is portrayed.
    On, the site states that they average an online relationship marriage per a week. Eharmony users complete a survey of over 400 questions that pertains to the users personality. The website claims that individuals are tested on 29 dimensions of their personality. These dimensions cover everything from sociability to family background. On users are asked to fill out a survey that is scientifically created to match individuals with one another based on their responses. Other sections of the website include values and beliefs, spirituality, religion, and family. These profile surveys are very in-depth and have scientific reasoning behind their purpose. Dr. Neil Warren is the creator of harmony as well as psychologist and author of various books on the subject of relationships. Eharmony states, “This online tool is the culmination of his (Dr. Warren’s) mission to help millions of people find their Soul Mate and fall in love for all the right reasons.� Through 35 years of relationship experience Dr. Warren believes he has found a systematic way of pairing individuals on the most important factors for a positive relationship. (, About Dr. Warren) Because the Internet has no boundaries, users can view residents from all over the world, as well as those who live within a few miles by using their zip code. Who ever said love has no boundaries was right and had enormous foresight into the future.
    Teens are also interested in Internet dating but not on a level of joining specific love sites. Instead teens or young adults are more discreet and use sites like or These sites allow individuals to post profile and pictures of themselves. They are also given the ability to search for individuals under specific criteria’s such as location and body shape. Although sites like these were not intended for dating, many date proposals come from Individuals can send members notes that they are attracted to. If the feeling is mutual, that person may be added to a friend list so in the future they can communicate via chatting or commenting on each other sites. The evidence of individuals surfing for that ideal partner is tremendous. On nearly every profile there are comments from other users. Overall teens and young adults use myspace as creative medium to express themselves, versus serious answer to their dating needs.
    Although most people are honest when creating personal profiles or personal WebPages, the creation of individual WebPages is still left to the individual without any type of confirmation or verification that the person is who he/she says they are. Therefore caution should always be used when viewing indivually-created profiles. The individual has the ability to create an image how he or she wants to be seen by the outside world. This image may or may not be far from how they are viewed in the real world. When creating a website an individual is likely to show only their positive aspects that are socially acceptable. One may list information or create a profile purely for its aesthetic value. And surely individuals will post the most flattering picture of themselves, after editing it Photoshop. This potentially creates some problems for a potential User’s ego in the real world, as it may give someone a false of sense social status. Anyone can create the profile of a beautiful blonde cheerleader from Southern California. But how can you be so sure that the blonde your talking isn’t a deranged, 300-pound, Latino male sitting in his apartment in Chicago? Without any type of personal verification we will never know if the people we are talking to are who they say they are. Individuals may be compelled to create pseudo-profiles to attain attention they do not receive from society for the person they truly are. For people who are skeptical of the true identity of person it is possible to do a background check on that specific user, before taking things too far or committing too much interest. There is a definitely a degree of separation between the images a user creates for him/her self and true reality, no matter how honest an individual is trying to be.
    Because the Internet grants access to anyone with a connection anytime during the week, this may be ideal for singles in their 30’s or 40’s who have hectic lives due to the responsibilities of children or stressful careers. Dating websites also allow people who are not as confident in social situations, such as a coffee house or a club to meet people to be social from the comfort of their own surroundings. Some people are uncomfortable with approaching strangers even if there are attracted because of the fear of rejection. In Dinty Moore’s book, The Emperor’s Virtual Clothes, Moore interviews a college student named Katie. Katie states, “Nobody talks at Carnegie Mellon…they send E-mail. A lot of the population at Carnegie Mellon are very, very bright, but not necessarily social skilled, and it helps a lot of them. (The Emperor’s Virtual Clothes, pg.28 )Electronic mail is good for people who have a hard time dealing with other people� .On the Internet there is little possibility for embarrassment because the access is left to the individual. Dating websites allows users to learn about other users by reading over their profiles, in which they obtain a lot of information. By reading online profiles, a user can learn much more about that person they would have if they had just met that person in public and had a short conversation. In an Ebony magazine article Nikkita Foston writes about Sharon’s Online dating expierence. Sharron states, “You felt like you already knew the person- even before you actually talked to them. When we finally met…It was like I’d known him all my life.� (Ebony Magazine, pg.128)
    When it comes to instant messaging with a particular person, the inferences from the texts received are left to the interrupter. The user is forced to create a mental image resulting from the Internet correspondence. Since the net does not allow one to see the physical reaction, all actions are based on interpretations of a user’s message. And typically something is lost in the translation. Body-language is a key-element to human communication in the real world.( Erich R. Merkle, Digital Dating and Virtual Relating: Conceptualizing Computer Mediated Romantic Relationships) Sometimes more is revealed through body language and how it it is being said versus what the message is literally saying. A new type of language is being created on the Internet due to the lack of body language that cannot be distinguished. This Language involves different non-verbal messages by using symbols such as a happy-face for when you are smiling : ). This new language also uses many abbreviations, some examples include: TTYL (talk to you later), BRB (Be right back), LOL (Laughing Out Loud) or OMG (Oh My God.)The proper way to distinguish emotions or feelings that are not obvious is within parenthesis or brackets. So if someone makes you feel humbled, you may write, “(Blushing)� back to him or her. In a sense we are adapting our English language to the Internet.
    During text messaging or IM sessions people may learn things about one another rather slowly, through one conversation at a time. But through this gradual development people create long-term bonds with one another. Because society has a set of standards or rules when it comes to social conduct, many people are eager to express their true feelings on the net. On the Internet there are no limits or restrictions on what you can say. If the material is found offensive then the corresponding user can simply log-off. Overall people enjoy the unreserved, open format that the Internet provides. In a Journal article entitled, Flirting on the Internet, Richard Alapack interviews John, an avid Internet dating user. John says, “You cant say some things to people the first time you meet them. But you can say anything immediately over the net.� The net gives users the opportunity to reveal their darkest secrets, and other ideas that may be classified in a real-world situation. Someone who may be extremely reserved or shy may find the Internet a breath of fresh air. Social stigmas such as race, class, and physical appearance cannot not be immediately perceived on the internet, therefore allowing a level playing field for each individual to start off in.
    Internet dating also appeals to individuals with special traits, such as those who are physically handicapped. Since there are many individuals all with different needs, there are many specific nichés on the Internet. By posting an online profile, a midget or small person may be able to connect to another small person. Because small people only make up a small percentage of the population in America, the Internet allows small people to connect from all over the world. Although not all small people date small people, people typically prefer to date individual who pocess traits of their own image. Internet dating also gives homosexuals a way to connect to one another. Homosexual individuals may especially like Internet dating because they can know a person’s sexual orientation without asking. By viewing personality profiles of homosexuals, a homosexual is given the opportunity to meet or date people with the same sexual orientation. The small minority of homosexuals worldwide no longer has to be isolated or limited to the homosexual community of their own physical location. The smaller specific communities have the opportunity to meet with others of the same type and perhaps carry out bona fide relationships.
    In the future, physical location could become irrelevant in finding the perfect partner. By posting a simple profile that’s address the most important aspects of a relationship, users can make themselves available to contact by anyone who wishes to inquire more. By being able to browse through profiles, the users can find many answers to the questions they have for their potential partners. The psychological research done by Dr. Warren makes the website an innovation in the dating world. Because of the 29 different dimensions tested on the website, people will know who they are most compatible with before they even speak a word to them. The legacy of Internet relationships will continue to revolutionize society and personal relationships in the future. Ten years ago internet date sites were very limited and only consisted of thousands of participants. Now in 2005, there are numerous major dating sites with millions of users. As a younger generation who has grown up with the Internet emerges, people will become more accepting and tolerant of this behavior. But any individual using the Internet should definitely proceed with caution as it is far too easy to craft a fake profile. Until dating websites have a way of confirming the true identity’s of it’s users, Online daters should browse profiles for recreation, instead of using them as the answer to finding a new spouse. One should also be careful of the content that an individual reveals about one’s self as it could propose numerous security issues.

  3. Landon Kian Ari Kadin Kenyon Christian

Speak Your Mind