Study Reveals that Location Matters the Most to Online Daters

Even though the internet is known for bridging the distance among users, new research has found that when it comes to online dating, most people still prefer to only interact with people who live in close proximity to them. This comes from a study published in Sociological Science which analyzed messaging patterns across a major online dating site. The study was conducted by Elizabeth Bruch and Mark Newman who both study complex systems at the University of Michigan and at the Santa Fe Institute. They also found that race, to an extent, affected the interactions of people on the dating site. According to the report, a black woman would have to be at least 8 years younger than the average white woman, in order to be able to compete.

“Even though everyone’s on the same dating site, there’s a distinct clustering to who interacts with whom,” says Bruch. “It’s not surprising that the dating markets were geographically clustered. But the precise boundaries of those markets were a little surprising to us.”

“A crucial aspect of the analysis is that we were looking not just at who sent messages to whom, but who sent messages and got a reply,” says Newman “In other words, at least one message went in both directions between two people. We did this because we felt that that was a more reliable indicator of mutual [romantic] interest.”

To carry out the research, the duo used an advanced algorithm to analyze 15 million of these two-way interactions among heterosexual users ofthe online dating site, it exposed 19 diverse communities that narrowly mirrored geographic regions in the landscape of the lower 48 states. Bruch mentions that these findings are consistent with a recent study of Facebook data, which showed thatonline friendships decrease with geographic distance.

Just like the Facebook study, this present study, found that Texans for instance, were more interested in interacting with other Texans, according to the report, it didn’t seem to matter that “users in the northern part of the state (Texas) live nearer to prospective matches in the Oklahoma panhandle than to those in Central or South Texas.”

The people from California were found to have grouped themselves into messaging communities around Northern and Southern part of the state, while it was noted that people from Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Arkansas remained interested in having an interstate relationship

The study also found that people preferred to interact with their age groups and that women were usually a bit younger than the men they messaged on the site.

“In Seattle, women in their 40s experience just a slight asymmetry in the number of single men and women, but in New York, the numbers are far more skewed,” says Bruch. “Based purely on sex ratios within submarkets: if I was a single guy in my 20s, I’d want to date in New York. But if I was a single woman in her 40s, I’d head straight to Seattle.”


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