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These patterns also generally held for the second step, messaging, but with smaller effects. The results convince Ken-Hou Lin, a sociologist at the University of Texas, Austin, who also studies online dating.
"The science is absolutely solid." He suspects that deal breakers are more important at the early stage of mate selection when people are winnowing down a pool of candidates.
When you’re online dating, why do you swipe left on one person and swipe right on another?
Are you carefully weighing every factor that makes someone a good romantic match?
Besides photographs, each user's profile could include any number of personal details including age, height, weight, education, marital status, number of children, and smoking and drinking habits.
The data set includes some 1.1 million interactions between users.
But beyond someone's looks, how much do any of these factors matter for mate selection?
One complication is that online daters are not making just one decision, but several in a series: First, people are swiping their way through profiles and deciding which to dismiss immediately or browse more closely.
All other factors being equal, women overall were 400 times less likely to browse the profile of a man significantly older than herself. Whereas 20-year-old women were 10 times more likely to ignore a man 10 years her senior, 45-year-old women were nearly 10% more likely to browse the profile of a man 55 or older compared with a man her own age.
Bruch's team devised a statistical model that maps the "decision rules" people follow during the first two steps.