Online dating is big and only getting bigger. One estimate puts it at a $932 million market next year, and a BBC poll from February says 30% of web users are looking for a boyfriend or girlfriend. With a wealth of personal information now online, these services can also serve as a great sociological tool. OkTrends is a blog that conducts original research from OkCupid, an online dating service. Their posts range from advice on how to use the dating service to graph-chalked, census-like studies on their customers. Yesterday they posted a comprehensive survey of what online daters write about themselves in their profiles.
Sampling 526,000 OkCupid accounts, the team sorted results by (self-stated) race and gender to see what words came up the most, all to find out what author Christian Rudder calls the “big questions” like, “What is it that makes a culture unique?” Unlike the popular blog to book Stuff White People Like ,which publishes submissions from writers, Rudder stresses that “the information in this article is not our opinion,” but rather is based on data aggregated from real people.
For white males phrases like “tom clancy, “van halen,” “golfing,” and “harley davidson” came up big. Some other interesting inclusions: “phish,” “grilling,” “building things,” and “groundhog day” — which we’re assuming refers to the movie starring Bill Murray. Here the authors of the study took a break from the rigors of reporting to make a interesting observation of their own. “If you’re trying to figure out if white dudes like something, put fucking in the middle, and say it out loud. If it sounds totally badass, white dudes probably love it.”
White women are interested in “the red sox,” “jodi picoult,” “boating” and “nascar.” Further down the list includes: “horseback riding,” “nicholas sparks,” “ireland,” and “mascara.” The survey goes on to look at blacks, Latinos, Asians, Indians, Middle Easterners, and Pacific Islanders, all sorted by gender.
The study then moves on to look at religion sorted by race. They found that black users, both male and female, mention faith in their profiles almost twice as frequently as any other race.
Further, the study compares race with profile sophistication, using the Coleman-Liau Index, which rates writing by grade level. Authors found Indian singles wrote the most sophisticated profiles.
Finally the study looks at religion and profile sophistication. In this graph the more faded triangles represent users who are not as serious about their religion, where darker triangles represent those who are more devout.
Read the rest of the OkTrends post here.