The popularity of dating applications has revolutionized our romantic habits. In reviewing millions of data, two scientists from the U. of Michigan found that the most determining force is “geographic proximity.”
In addition to fixing the emotional problems of millions of people in the world, the applications to get married have become a powerful tool for sociologists, psychologists and anthropologists interested in tearing some secrets from the way humans look for a partner. A study that analyzed more than 15 million data of heterosexual couples in the United States gave some clues about how “the love market” operates.
The work designed by Elizabeth E. Bruch and M. E. J. Newman of the University of Michigan was based on information from one of the most popular Internet sites in the United States with more than 4 million active users. They initially focused on heterosexual men (self-identified) who sent or received at least one message on the site during January 1, 2014 and January 31, 2014.
Following the line of investigation of other similar works, the two researchers wanted to understand what are the main forces that are guiding the search and choice of couple online. “The experience of couple selection is often described, both in popular discourse and in scientific literature, in the language of markets: the objective of an individual is to ensure the best possible match for themselves in the face of competition from others. . However, we know little about the structure of these romantic markets, in part because of the lack of adequately detailed data, “they noted in the paper recently published in the journal Sociological Science.
The first big conclusion that the work showed is that, at least in the United States, geography is the defining characteristic of the dating markets. In other words, it does not matter much if the internet allows one individual to connect with another living in other cities or states. In the end romantic love ends up being a “local” affair. (Image: Map of the United States with 19 subregions according to postal codes and the interactions generated through the application of citations used by researchers).
But that is not all. When examining in detail those “romantic markets”, the researchers discovered that there are “submarkets” and these are mainly defined by age, as well as other demographic factors, in particular, race. The data indicate that three quarters of all reciprocal messages between couples are within the submarkets, and only a quarter is located between individuals in different submarkets.
However, in the first attempts of the users to make contact with a couple a larger fraction, about 43 percent, tries to intrude into other submarkets, which indicates that people try to communicate with their partners outside of their submarkets, but those attempts often do not succeed. “In general, our results reveal the aggregate implications of individuals’ choice of partners and suggest that metropolitan areas are best characterized as a collection of geographically integrated but demographically distinct sub-markets,” the researchers noted.
“Although they are all on the same dating site, there is a different grouping for who interacts with whom,” Bruch explained in a press release, noting that the geographic grouping is consistent with a recent study of Facebook data, which found that the incidence of online friendships decreases with geographical distance. “It’s not surprising that dating markets are geographically grouped, but the precise limits of those markets surprised us a bit.”