Sunday, May 29, 2011

Dating Sites: A Practical Application of Statistics

Let's see how we can apply our knowledge of statistics, boys and girls:
Every six weeks or so, the bloggers — all former math majors from Harvard — examine the gold mine of dating data collected from their members' online interactions (properly scrubbed and anonymized, of course). They sort and sift, crunch and correlate, catching whatever nuggets of mating wisdom fall out.

Then they post a report of their findings — and the resultant dating tips — often with pop culture references, statistical graphs and pictures of half-naked young men and women.

"It's our version of an advice column," says Sam Yagan, OkCupid's chief executive. "We love the fact that our own data tell us what works on a date."

Even scientists drop by to see what they're up to — though their opinions on what they find there varies a lot.

"I'm a big fan," says Eli Finkel, associate professor of social psychology at Northwestern University. "The posts are generally insightful, well-written and fun."

"These are not necessarily statistically reliable findings," says Viren Swami, a psychology researcher at the University of Westminster in London and co-author of "The Psychology of Physical Attraction."

Fun and interesting does not necessarily mean "statistically reliable"--kinda like astrology!


Dacey said...

So they have done the full research on what should be done at dating sites.Thanks for the post.

Elaine C. said...

I have to say... as a gimmick to attract geeks it does work well, though! Free didn't hurt either ;)

Met my husband on that site, we've been married 4 years now, and have a wee toddler!

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