Last year OKCupid launched a short-lived app that set up blind dates. (They spent a year and a half working on it, but it was gone from the app store within six months). To celebrate the app’s release in January of last year, OKCupid removed all the pictures from their site on launch day, calling it “Love Is Blind Day.” They discovered some things — some obvious and some maybe not so obvious — about human behavior and dating when their users weren’t able to see what each other looked like for the seven hours that the photos were removed.
First, user engagement was way down during that 7-hour period compared to the same time frame on a regular Tuesday. Also:
– People responded to messages 44% more often
– conversations went deeper (whatever that means)
– contact details (emails and phone numbers) were exchanged more quickly
And then when photos were restored at 4 PM, something happened to the 2,200 conversations that were in progress and had started “blind”: they rapidly dwindled. Maybe not so surprising. But OKCupid did discover something somewhat surprising when they reviewed data of people who actually used the blind date app: women who had dates with guys who were hotter than they were reported feeling less happy about their dates than those women who went out with guys who were more equally-matched to them in the looks department. Maybe those guys were assholes? Or maybe the women felt self-conscious about not being as attractive. Or… maybe there just wasn’t a spark and it turns out that good looks aren’t enough to keep things interesting if there isn’t any chemistry. Shocking, right?
OKCupid also looked at stats from when users could rate each other’s looks (ew) and personality (less ew, but still ew-ish). They found that people who rated more highly for looks were, across the board, rated more highly for personality, too. Even if their profiles contained zero text, leading OKCupid to believe that most users just look at the photos and not the profiles.
After we got rid of the two scales, and replaced them with just one, we ran a direct experiment to confirm our hunch—-that people just look at the picture. We took a small sample of users, and half the time we showed them pictures we hid their profile text. That generated two independent sets of scores for each profile, one score for “the picture and the text together” and one for “the picture alone.” Here’s how they compare. Again, each dot is a user. Essentially, the text is less than 10% of what people think of you.
So, there you go: people are shallow. Personality isn’t as important as looks. Etc., etc. Of course, this isn’t a controlled experiment, and we don’t know how the average OKCupid user compares to someone who doesn’t use OKCupid (though we can probably make an educated guess), or who doesn’t online date at all. But these are interesting, if depressing, things to think about nonetheless. This post goes on to cover how the myth of compatibility works, at least in terms of OKCupid users, which is also interesting. Like, can the mere suggestion that you are a good match with someone affect whether you believe that to be true? Apparently. Quick, someone tell Ryan Gosling we’d be a great match if anything ever happens to both our significant others…
[via OKCupid Blog]