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Computational Courtship: Understanding the Evolution of Online Dating through Large-scale Data Analysis

by   Rachel Dinh, et al.

Have we become more tolerant of dating people of different social backgrounds compared to ten years go? Has the rise of online dating exacerbated or alleviated gender inequalities in modern courtship? Are the most attractive people on these platforms necessarily the most successful? In this work, we examine the mate preferences and communication patterns of male and female users of the online dating site eHarmony over the past decade to identify how attitudes and behaviors have changed over the past decade. While other studies have investigated disparities in user behavior between male and female users, this study is unique in its longitudinal approach. Specifically, we analyze eHarmony's user data to determine how men and women differ in their preferences for certain traits in potential partners and how those preferences have changed over time. The second line of inquiry investigates to what extent physical attractiveness determines the rate of messages a user receives, and how that relationship varies between men and women. Finally, we explore whether online dating practices between males and females have become more equal over time or if biases and inequalities have remained constant (or increased). This work could have broader implications for shifting gender norms and social attitudes, reflected in online courtship rituals. Apart from the data-based research, we connect the results to existing theories that concern existing theories that concern the role of ICTs in societal change. As searching for love online becomes increasingly common across generations and geographies, these findings may shed light on how people can build meaningful relationships through the Internet.


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