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Bruch's team devised a statistical model that maps the "decision rules" people follow during the first two steps.
Bruch and her team divided the rules into two broad categories, "deal breakers" and "deal makers," used to exclude or include people for the next level of contact.
Bruch wondered: Is mate selection like a job interview process, where the person with the best combination of positive factors wins?
Instead, the results indicate that you are probably looking for "deal breakers," harshly eliminating those who do not live up to your standards. People met their romantic partners through the recommendations of friends, family, or even at real-world locations known as "bars." Whatever signals and decisions led people to couple up were lost to science. According to the Pew Research Center, 5% of Americans in a committed romantic relationship say they met their partner through an online dating site.
Those 30 million people have generated billions of pieces of data.
And because most dating sites ask users to give consent for their data to be used for research purposes, this online courting has played out like an enormous social science experiment, recording people's moment-by-moment interactions and judgments.
A team led by Elizabeth Bruch, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, tapped into this torrent of dating data.
Because of a nondisclosure agreement, the researchers can't reveal the exact source of their subjects, describing it only as an "established, marriage-oriented, subscription-based dating site" from which they randomly selected 1855 people, all based in New York City.