How Online Dating and Matching Markets Connect

In this article, The Wall Street Journal talks to Stanford’s Nobel prize-winning economist Alvin Roth about how his work as an economist has shown him how online dating could be improved. He’s talked other “real world” topics before, such as matching patients to organ donors, doctors to residency programs, and students to schools, and this time he’s looking at how principles from matching markets can be applied to the “marketplace” of online dating. First, he says, for the matching to be able to be successful, the market/dating site or app has to be “thick,” meaning there have to be enough users looking for matches – not too big of a problem in the grand scheme of online dating, but potentially a problem for smaller dating apps.

Further research based off of couples who had been successfully united through online dating showed that the women were statistically less “picky,” while the men were more so. This is interesting because it shows that typical man-on-Tinder behavior (a.k.a. swiping right on literally everyone) does not lead to success, and neither does typical woman-on-Tinder behavior (ab shot – left, mirror selfie – left, picture with a car – left, SO MANY LEFT SWIPES). The behavior that worked the best for people on these sites was behavior that was supported by a limit in how many contacts could be made, or some limited way of showing extra meaning behind a contact – for example, if each person only gets 5 virtual roses a day and can choose to attach a rose to their introductory note to show a greater degree of interest, the recipient is more likely to reply because they perceive that they were specially selected while the sender is more deliberate about who they contact and receive a higher likelihood of response from who they’re especially interested in.

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