Dating as a science project

The data set includes some 1.1 million interactions between users.

But beyond someone's looks, how much do any of these factors matter for mate selection?

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.

Geologists often need to know the age of material that they find.

They use absolute dating methods, sometimes called numerical dating, to give rocks an actual date, or date range, in number of years.

One complication is that online daters are not making just one decision, but several in a series: First, people are swiping their way through profiles and deciding which to dismiss immediately or browse more closely.

"That men care about height at all is, we suspect, a function of their realizing they may get rejected if they aren't quite a bit taller than their potential mates," she adds.Lin hopes that other dating sites will release similar data, because website design could play a bit part in how people make decisions.For example, says Lin, "Tinder doesn't allow users to search, and emphasizes the photos much more than [personal] attributes, which might reduce the deal breaker effects." Then again, perhaps that simply shifts the deal breakers to a person's appearance instead.For one, prospective daters were wary of proceeding sight unseen.If a profile did not include a photo, for example, both men and women were 20 times less likely to even look at the rest of the person's profile.

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