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Online dating study: women have to be young, men have to be educated

Michigan - Women must be young, men must be educated. These new study results are depressing, comments the Guardian. The recently published study of the online dating behavior of heterosexual Americans would once again highlight a problem that pervades society as a whole. The supposedly depressing finding: the attractiveness of women compared to men would have a particularly early expiration date.

Details of the investigation

Scientists Elizabeth Bruch and Martin Newman from the University of Michigan analyzed data from users of a popular free online dating service in four major US cities (New York, Boston, Chicago and Seattle), where the user density is high. Personal data such as age, place of residence and relationship status were recorded upon registration and included in the analysis. Providing further details, including body size and religion, and answering open questions about yourself were optional. Over the course of a month, the authors observed patterns in the behavior of users, i.e. their message traffic, and their attractiveness values ​​in order to find out who is attracted to whom and for what reason.

A person's attraction was tied to the number of messages sent to them. From this, the research team calculated an attractiveness scale with the inclusion of information on physical attractiveness, income, ethnicity and level of education. Using these values, they determined a person's degree of desirability.

Attractiveness has an expiration date

The provocative finding: Older women are less desirable than older men. At the age of 18 women would have reached the peak of their attractiveness in the eyes of the opposite sex, the scientists discover. After that, this decreases more and more. The same applies to men, but only over the age of 50. Arwa Mahdawi from the Guardian comments: This study shows, in a way, that straight men find girls rather than women attractive. After all, 18-year-olds would still be teenagers.

In addition to age, a person's attractiveness was also dependent on their level of education. Women and men also differed in their preferences: while for women men with a postgraduate degree or doctorate were most attractive, for men it was women with a slightly lower level of education, more precisely: an undergraduate or bachelor's degree. Female doctoral students were a little less popular. In order to determine the result for the educational level in isolation and to prevent falsification, the age of the users was taken into account in the calculation.

Hierarchy in the love market

But men and women had one thing in common: they all liked to send messages to people who were on average a little more attractive than they were - namely by around 25 percent. The findings confirm the concept of "dating leagues". The results also show that dating outside of one's own "league" is quite possible - even if this may require more effort, say the scientists.

Finally, the authors point out that searching for a partner "in real life" could differ considerably from searching on the Internet. For example, it would be very possible to apply stricter selection criteria for online dating, because countless other options would be waiting. (Roxane Seckauer, August 31, 2018)