Online Dating Psych: Users Don't Actually Care About These Stated Preferences

Much romantic bliss has been found between people who aren't, on face, each other's "type." As IRL, online dating site users may indicate particular preferences but actually cast a much wider net. Researchers from the University of Massachusetts Lowell analyzed the actions of 200,000 users of popular Chinese dating website baihe.com. They found that indicated preferences about age, body type, etc. didn't really constrain the types of potential dates people messaged or responded to.

Women tended to deviate further from their stated preferences than men, especially when it came to age, height, and location. But women were less flexible than men about marital status and whether someone had children.

Overall, people’s actual choices were "essentially random" in categories such as height and education level, the researchers, led by data scientist Peng Xia, noted. Geographic distance between two users and number of photos played a more important role. And both male and female users were more likely to reply when someone closely matched their stated preferences. Men were also more likely to message younger women than vice versa.

I guess this is mostly heartening news — I'm highly suspicious of people who have rigid romantic types in general. I only have one real requirement: beards. Or at least some sort of facial hair (preferably not a solo mustache, but I'll take it). The study did not measure flexibility on facial hair requirements, however.