Dan ariely on dating sites

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And this breaking into attributes turns out not to be very informative.

My student, Jeana Frost, and I decided to look at this problem in the context of online dating.

" And I took people that I liked more and I liked less, and I took their profile and I tried to figure out could I tell the difference? Imagine you went to 50 people you really like and 50 people you only like so-so, and you asked all of them to fill this profile, then you took this 100 profiles and you tried to sort them out into piles. And then went a step further, did some studies with online daters about how much they enjoyed it and what they were getting from it, until the final stage, we, I figured out, I thought I knew what was going on, which is that online dating sites assume that people are easy to describe on searchable attributes.

They think that we’re like digital cameras, that you can describe somebody by their height and weight and political affiliation and so on. That when you taste the wine, you could describe it, but it’s not a very useful description. And it’s the complexity and the completeness of the experience that tells you if you like a person or not.

In fact, for a 5’ 9” man to be equally attractive to a 5’ 10” man, he would have to make ,000 more in salary per year. The most attractive quality in a woman was BMI, with the optimal being 18.5 (slightly underweight).

No amount of money could make up for a woman’s BMI; men didn’t care about a woman’s salary or her graduate degree.

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