A recent article in the Journal of Politics by Gregory Huber, Yale professor of political science, and Neil Malhotra, a professor of political economy at Stanford University, offers fresh insight into these questions.They conducted two studies — one involving a survey using manipulated online dating profiles, and another using a trove of data from an online dating service —that measure people’s attitudes before they form relationships.It is a truism that politics makes for strange bedfellows, but there is evidence that it also makes for normal bedfellows.Research shows that married couples on average share similar political beliefs.Both sexes value humor, studies suggest, so it pays to not take your profile too seriously.One area to take very seriously, however, is honesty—multiple studies have shown that people who lie on their dating profiles rarely land a first date.Researchers boiled that body of 4,000 studies into a more manageable group of 86 particularly strong scientific papers.Each of these studies examined a different factor in online dating—from profile pics to private messages—and noted how often certain behaviors led to an actual date.
Some might argue (and some studies will support the view) that online dating has ruined relationships. A ‘grass is greener’ mentality has turned some into perpetual serial daters searching for perfection. However, contrary to the rather depressing view expressed by Nancy Sales in her Vanity Fair article ‘Tinder and the dawn of the dating apocalypse', not all daters are looking for casual flings. I asked my dad about this experience, and here’s how he described it: he told his parents he was ready to get married, so his family arranged meetings with three neighboring families. That’s how my dad decided on the person with whom he was going to spend the rest of his life. I am perpetually indecisive about even the most mundane things, and I couldn’t imagine navigating such a huge life decision so quickly. Happily so—and probably more so than most people I know who had nonarranged marriages.And perhaps because many search engines sort results alphabetically, studies have found an online dating bias in favor of screen names that begin with a letter in the top half of the alphabet. Women find a man more attractive when they see other women smiling at him, studies suggest, and people often assign more importance to figures in the center of a group photo than those in the periphery. Aim for the ratio—70 percent of your description should be about you, and 30 percent should focus on your ideal partner. A few disappointing studies have found that men prefer women who enjoy yoga and aerobics, but are less into women who play sports.It also helps if you’re playfully touching someone in the photo, because touching other people is apparently a sign of high social status. Meanwhile, women tend to value bravery and risky attitudes in men over kindness and altruism.
Political scientists and sociologists have sought to understand what drives this homogeneity.