After 3 years of nothing but the sound of crickets, OkCupid has finally posted something on their OkTrends blog. And this time, it was to admit that they “experiment on human beings.” In other words, they’ve used the huge cache of data (and subjects) available to them, manipulated their users’ profile data, and utilized their considerable analytic prowess to bring us yet more interesting information about how people behave when dating online.
The new blog article is called, of course, “We Experiment on Human Beings!”
Right or Wrong?
Some people find OkCupid’s experimentation merely interesting. Others are outraged. Their experimentation even made major news, including a segment on Good Morning America. And it was somewhat similar to the public finding out that Facebook did some “experiments” of its own on the power of “emotional contagion,” where the social media site manipulated users’ feeds to see how they would react. Even a Senator asked the Federal Trade Commission to look into what Facebook did, mostly to address the issue of privacy and what these social networking sites should be getting away with.
On the one hand, you’re on a public, free site that says up front they’ll use your data. On the other, people don’t like to feel manipulated or like rats on a treadmill in some whitecoat’s laboratory. I worked in academic research for years; when we “experimented on human beings,” we did it with their full permission. And when researchers must be deceptive to yield valid results, participants are always fully debriefed afterwards. To some extent, OkCupid did that debriefing with this blog.
Finally, OkCupid, Facebook, and the rest of them are private companies using private funds, giving them more leeway to do what they want. Most academic researchers work on publicly funded grant money, and thus have far stricter rules to follow. Similarly, scientists have called into question eHarmony’s “scientifically based” matching algorithm and its ability to match people better than they could just browsing through pics and going on coffee dates, but eHarmony (a private company) doesn’t have to share its special sauce or prove its worth.
Overall, I love OkCupid’s experiments and don’t find them problematic. I wouldn’t mind even I were one of their users. That’s the scientist in me.
So what did the ever-curious nerds at OkCupid find this time?
“Love Is Blind” No Photos Day. Here, they removed the photos for their users for a brief time to watch what happened. They found that people responded to first messages 44% more often, conversations went deeper, and people moved more quickly to exchange info (email, phone, etc). When pics were restored, this effect reversed.
Rating other users. OkCupid has utilized various systems with which to rate other users in terms of appearance, personality, and what I assume is overall attractiveness as a human being. They found that the ratings for just a pic and for pic plus information about the person were NO DIFFERENT. In other words, people rate other users based on the picture only and whatever that pic conjures up about him or her.
Toying with the match percentages. OkCupid uses an algorithm to calculate how well-matched one user is with another, based on criteria in their profile. Who wouldn’t be intrigued by someone who is a “90% match”? And, they report that the algorithm works, that people who are well-matched show more responses, longer convos, exchanging of numbers, etc. But they wondered: is it the algorithm or the power of suggestion?? A fair question.
Well, OkCupid decided to mess with this number and post artificially inflated match percentages to their users in order to see what would happen. In other words, a 30% match was presented as a 90% match. Result? Being told it was a good match increased the responses/convos/number exchanges!
They also tested it the other way: making good matches appear like poor matches. Result: it didn’t change anything! If they were a good match, they still exchanged more emails and moved forward. So it seems the algorithm does work… but so does the power of suggestion!
But what do YOU think of OkCupid’s experimentation? Interesting? Annoying? Wrong? Let’s hear from you all.
I’ve been fortunate enough to be quoted in a lot of articles recently, all of them very good. So thought I’d share some of them with you for a little fun and informative reading.
Guys: 6 Lies She’s Been Telling You
Have you ever dated a woman who said something and then you find out later it wasn’t quite the truth? For example, the “I’m fine” speech when she’s clearly NOT fine? She probably wasn’t intentionally lying, but trying to show her best side. Read on…
From Men’s Health Magazine: 6 Lies She’s Been Telling You Since You Met
I had a bad experience recently. I was part of an event affiliated with Match.com, where I and a few others were panelists in a discussion with a roomful of singles. It was an interactive event, where the MC asked the audience what dating challenges they face, and we panelists would chime in with advice.
There were 5 panelists, one of whom was an outspoken, opinionated guy who did a lot of the talking on the panel. He owns a bunch of bars and has written a dating book that he hasn’t published yet. One of his most interesting comments was that “most men are douchebags.” Yes, he said it, and he meant it. He told us before the event began that he wants to protect his 3 daughters, who are old enough to date now. He also said that all good people get snatched up early, leaving s smaller pool of lower quality people for those who are still single. He had other things to say, some of which were good and others that weren’t… but there he was, dominating the conversation when he was — BY FAR — the least knowledgeable person on that panel. Being a quieter introvert, I had a hard time getting a word in edgewise in the maelstrom of loud opinions that constituted this event. But I still feel regret that I didn’t challenge his stupider statements. Read More
One of the most common concerns I hear from women dating divorced men is something relating to his ex. Perhaps she’s still in the picture. Or she’s not in the picture but she bugs you anyway. Or maybe she doesn’t like you, or uses the kids as pawns to manipulate your boyfriend, or he’s talking to her or helping her more often than you feel comfortable with.
Many exes aren’t a problem. But when she is a problem, even a minor problem, the most common reason is a rather simple one:
She isn’t over him yet.
This is a confusing concept to many. People often believe that if an ex isn’t over you, it must mean they still love you or want you back. Sometimes, that’s actually the case. But other times, it’s only that he or she simply hasn’t let go of you, your relationship, or the “idea” of you yet.
Happy Thursday all! I just got done with Denver Comic Con last weekend. It was a BLAST… even more fun than last year, and I didn’t think that was possible! It doesn’t hurt that I sold all but 5 of my books
Here are a few new announcements:
First, the new edition of Dating the Divorced Man could use some more Amazon reviews! Reviews mean the world to me and to both past and future readers. Readers love to know what other readers thought about a book: what they liked, what didn’t work for them, how the book helped them personally. A review doesn’t need to be long or amazing… just honest. Here is the link on Amazon… and thanks a million!
How To Pick Up a Single Dad
On the “dating the divorced man” theme, I am quoted in a fun article on how to pick up a single dad. Hey, there are lots of them out there and they would love to meet the right girl. Single dads, assuming they’re moved on from their divorces, can be great partners. Those of you who are parents know how much maturity and responsibility goes into raising kids… that same maturity will benefit your relationship as well.
6 Signs He’s Definitely Flirting with You
And, finally, Women’s Health Mag did an online article on signs that a man is flirting with (or attracted to) you. You’d be surprised how clueless most women are when it comes to this, and my years-old blog article “Signs a Man is Interested in You, Part I” is still my most viewed article by far.
Check out the article on the Women’s Health site here…