You have a subconscious prejudice when you date online

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Sunday 15 January 2017 14:00
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Picture:(Getty Images)

A new study confirms that we're just as shallow as the cynics suggest.

People often write off online dating and photo focused dating apps as encouraging hasty judgement based on five images.

However, it's not only about looks.

A study by Queensland University of Technology (QUT) confirms that many people judge a potential match on old school class signifiers:

Where did you go to school?

...and...

What do you do?

QUT looked at 219,013 dating interactions between 41,936 participants, aged 18-80, over a four month period.

They found that users of dating apps are more likely to contact someone of the same education level as them.

Behavioural economists Stephen Whyte and Benno Torgley, who led the study, attributed the prejudice to the increasing in options online dating provides users.

Cyber dating permits multiple partner choices in real time, which allows for a significantly greater available choice of potential mates.

This increased pool means greater opportunity for selection of partners with lower, similar or even higher levels of certain characteristics.

Tinder saw our souls

Some apps already have built in education level bias, such as Hinge which relies on matches having a pre-existing social connections (which indirectly will be determined by your class, education, and job).

One of the most popular apps, Tinder, has allowed people to list their education and jobs since 2015.

Even before then, think of all the profiles that included a graduation snap.

Subtle. Real subtle.

Speaking at the time about this update, CEO Sean Rad told Business Insider:

We have a lot of information we use silently behind the scenes to determine who is most relevant for you, and over the coming months you are going to see more of that surfacing up to the top of the [profile]...We want to give you the opportunity to make the decision for yourself.

Perhaps this was a tacit recognition of the prejudice users were already exerting.

With age comes wisdom

A slightly cheerier finding from the study was that discrimination on the grounds of education tends to fade in older online daters.

Specfically the more educated cohort of participants became less picky about finding someone as clever as they were as they grew older.

According to Whyte:

Older women in particular have a greater likelihood of contacting potential partners who are less educated than themselves but conversely, younger males fall into this category as well.

The full study was published in Personality and Individual Difference.

HT Science Alert

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