Overconfidence Kills Young Men's OkCupid Game, But Improves Women's

Today in dating app science, a researcher from Carnegie Mellon University found that overconfidence in the OkCupid profiles of college-aged men often spelled doom for their messaging success, while confidence in the profiles of college-aged women helped their messaging success. So keep on overcoming your imposter syndrome, sisters.

Emily Yeh presented her research recently to the Society for Personality and Social Psychology in San Diego, which took a look at how people self-reported on OkCupid by answering its questionnaires. As those of us who have slogged through hundreds of questions to improve our match compatibility know, OkCupid generates a little chart with your major personality traits, as measured by comparison to other folks in your population on the site. As my OkCupid personality chart notes, "For example, you appear to be 'More arrogant' than gay women your age." COOL.

So Yeh analyzed how two age groups (one group aged 18-22, and one group aged 45-55) to see how their self-reporting affected their messaging success. One major disconnect Yeh noted, for example, is in how people listed their height. She found that users self-report they are about two inches taller on the site than national surveys indicate they would be. But studying the self-reported confidence levels produced some very gendered results.

Yeh decided, for the purposes of her research, that "success" on the site would be defined by whether the participant received the first message (successful) or was the one doing the messaging (not successful), and whether the conversation was sustained, meaning at least four back and forth messages were exchanged.

Self-reporting high confidence levels helped young women in that they received more first contact messages.

But, men who self-reported high confidence levels received fewer first contact messages.

And, men who self-reported as less confident were less likely to carry on sustained conversations.

Yeh also looked at the older set on OkCupid, adults aged 45-55, and the opposite seemed to hold true. All older folks who self-reported high confidence levels got more messages and carried on more sustained conversations. It seems like more self-confidence helped them appear more desirable.

One possible explanation for this result? Said Yeh, “It could mean, perhaps as you get older, you start to have more concrete measures of how confident you are.” In other words, the experience that comes with age and the concrete examples of accomplishment lead to more accurate self-reporting and, thus, cultivate a clearer sense of self-awareness. Conversely, college-aged males might feel confident, but don't actually have any big accomplishments under their belts yet to back it up — and their peers can sense it.

The great news for young women, though, is that it seems the struggle of simply being a woman in a patriarchal world gives us enough street cred to come off as accomplished, self-assured, boss bitches. We just have to claim it.

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