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6 Data-Driven Dating Facts From OkCupid CEO Sam Yagan

Men who begin their online dating messages with "Howdy" have around a 40% better success rate than those who start with "Hey," says Sam Yagan, CEO of dating site OkCupid, in his recent Big Think interview.

The company, which currently boasts over 3.5 million active users, has used its massive dataset of profiles and interactions to make a series of substantiated observations about online dating behavior (see OkCupid's blog for much more detailed analysis), including:

  1. Men who look away from the camera and don't smile have a much higher chance of getting a response than those who look directly into the camera.
  2. Unlike men, women do better when they look directly into the camera.
  3. Women in their early 20s who show cleavage in their profiles do around 24% better, but that number rises to 79% by the time they hit age 32. Similarly, men who show their abs do better—but men only show their abs when they have really nice abs.
  4. The most common profile phrase for white men is "Tom Clancy." For white women, it's "Boston Red Sox." Hispanic men reference humor and mixed martial arts, while black women reference God, Jesus, and religion.
  5. People in their 20s and 30s are almost race-blind when it comes to deciding who to message for a date. People in their 50s and 60s message people of their own race around twice as frequently.
  6. Unless they're over 6 feet tall, men lie almost uniformly about their height, estimating up by approximately 2 inches.

According to Yagan, meeting romantic partners online will be so standard in the near to medium-term future that we'll stop referring to it as "online dating" and just call it "dating." The future of online dating, however, likely won't include video, he thinks; the data shows that women tend to simply ignore dating sites' video features when they're introduced.

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