Lifestyle Online daters ignore wish list when choosing a match

Online daters ignore wish list when choosing a match

Despite having a very clear ‘wish list’ stating their preference for potential ideal matches, most online daters contact people bearing no resemblance to the characteristics they say they want in a mate, according to QUT research.

The finding was revealed in the ‘Preference vs Choice in Online Dating’ study conducted by QUT behavioural economists Stephen Whyte and Professor Benno Torgler.

They analysed the online dating preferences and contact behaviour of more than 41,000 Australians aged between 18-80 using data from the online dating website RSVP.

“We looked at whether or not people actually contact people who match what they say is their ideal partner in their profile, and our findings show they don’t. Stating a preference for what you are looking for appears to have little to no bearing on the characteristics of people you actually contact,” Mr Whyte said.

Mr Whyte said instead of searching until they find the exact match to their stated criteria, people may actually prefer to settle on an acceptable threshold of qualities or characteristics in a potential mate, rather than hold out.

He said that where once people were limited to settings such as school, work, social gatherings or local night spots, there is a much wider choice at hand online.

“The psychology employed by humans choosing a mate can definitely be environmentally sensitive and the nature of online dating is triggering changes in underlying preferences and decision behaviour of those involved,” he said.

“As Internet and cyber dating continues to grow at a rapid rate further research is required into the decision-making process and the links between stated preferences and actual choice.”

The research is the largest ever behavioural economic analysis of Australian online dating.

“Our study reviewed the interactions of people whose ages ranged from millennials to octogenarians, which in itself demonstrates how widespread online dating is and how it is changing traditional ways in which people find potential love interests,” Mr Whyte said.

Read more about online dating behaviour here. Story credit: QUT newsroom.

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