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We present an empirical analysis of heterosexual dating markets in four large U. cities using data from a popular, free online dating service.
We show that competition for mates creates a pronounced hierarchy of desirability that correlates strongly with user demographics and is remarkably consistent across cities.
A scaled rank of 1 denotes the most desirable man or woman in a city by our measure, and 0 denotes the least desirable.
It is important to emphasize that, while we use Page Rank as an operational measure of desirability, we do not assume that users of the website themselves use Page Rank, or anything like it, to identify attractive mates.
Historically, however, these hierarchies have been difficult to quantify.
Since they reflect which partners people pursue, and not just who people end up with, one would need a way to observe unrequited overtures and requited ones to determine who people find desirable.
If you are contacted by people who are themselves desirable, then you are presumptively more desirable yourself.
Strategic behaviors can improve one’s chances of attracting a more desirable mate, although the effects are modest.).
One possible explanation for this is the matching hypothesis, which suggests that men and women pursue partners who resemble themselves.
Online dating provides us with an unprecedented opportunity to observe both requited and unrequited overtures at the scale of entire populations.
As data from online dating websites have become available, a number of studies have explored the ways in which mate choice observed online can inform the debate about matching versus competition.