Sealed With a Kiss: Signals improve matching in online dating markets
Just as peacocks spread their tails to signal virility, men have used conspicuous consumption to signal wealth and women have used the appearance of youth to signal fertility – all in the name of attracting a mate. How though, can online daters signal genuine interest to a prospective match? By sending a rose of course.
Economists have long been interested in the role that signals play in the operation of markets. If signals impose a cost on the sender, they then give the recipient an indication that the sender is serious in their intentions. For example, students can apply to as many universities as they like (in general) but if they are only allowed to apply to a limited number of schools as an early applicant, this process serves as a signal to the school that the student is sincerely interested in attending that specific school. The fact that GPA’s tend to be lower for students accepted in the early applicant process says that this strategy of signalling with an early application works in the student’s favor – the university appreciates the signal.
When it comes to online dating, men, in general, tend to apply a “shot-gun” approach; sending many, many women messages claiming to be interested. If responding to messages is costly for women, who have to know that receiving a note does not necessarily mean that the man believes she’s “the one”, then there is an incentive for men to find a way to signal their genuine interest in order to encourage women to respond.
The same could be held true for women (or men) who received messages from men (or women) who they perceive to be “out of their league”. If responding is costly then why respond to messages if you think the sender is unlikely to be sincere? Again, there should be a way to signal genuine interest.
One way is to use an online dating service that has a per-message user fee that imposes a direct cost on the message sender (we have talked before about the advantages of fee based dating sites) but what about free dating services? Are there ways for seekers to signal that they really have considered the other person’s profile and would like to pursue a relationship with them?
Joint research between economists at Stanford, University of Maryland and the Korea Marriage Culture Institute finds that a small, almost costless, signal – the sending of a virtual rose – had large effects in an online dating experiment.
In the experiment, single men and women participated in an online matching party. After viewing profiles of prospective mates they could chose to send standardized messages proposing a date to at most ten people. Once the party was over, participants had four days to either accept or reject date proposals (again, they could accept no more than ten). The clever idea in this experiment was participants could signal the sincerity of their interest; everyone was given two roses they could attach to their message with one fifth being given eight roses.
Roses were costly to send only in the sense that not every message could have one attached so that participants had to choose a subset of their matches to receive a rose. Presumably they chose the ones that interested them the most.
Finally, participants were ranked based on their level of desirability to prospective spouses based on data collected, and used to create the matching algorithm, by the online dating site conducing the experiment.
Sending roses significantly improved a participant’s chance of having their date proposal accepted. Not everyone found someone they wanted to date, and not everyone sent roses, but those who did send a rose had a 20% better chance that their date proposal was accepted than those who did not. People who sent proposals to men/women in the middle of the distribution in terms of desirability had an increased chance of being accepted of 25% and those who sent proposals to people in the bottom increased their chances by 45%.
Here is where it is interesting. This strategy works best if the sender of the proposal is considered more desirable than the receiver. Everything else held constant, if a sender of a proposal is ranked as superior to receiver then the attachment of a rose increases the probability of having the date proposal accepted by an incredible 50%.
This is something to think about for people are using online dating sites even if they don’t have a means to a signal that is as explicit as a virtual rose. Sending a personalized message that indicates that the sender has taken the time to read the receiver’s profile carefully sends a signal that they have invested time in the message is one way to send a positive signal. Sending a cut and paste message, or one with poor spelling and grammar, sends a negative signal that little time has been allocated to the task and that the sender lacks genuine interest.
Of course, as this research suggests, the more you think a potential love interest should be happy to have you, the more meaningful the signal needs to be to convince them that you really would be happy to have them. So those people you might think need the smallest signal to encourage a response are actually the people who respond best when the signal is given.
Reference: Soohyung Lee, Muriel Niederle, Hye-Rim Kim and Woo-Keum Kim (2011) “Propose With A Rose? Signaling In Internet Dating Markets.” NBER Working Paper 17340 http://www.nber.org/papers/w17340
It's just the current cycle that involves opiates, but methamphetamine, cocaine, and others have caused the trajectory of overdoses to head the same direction
- It appears that overdoses are increasing exponentially, no matter the drug itself
- If the study bears out, it means that even reducing opiates will not slow the trajectory.
- The causes of these trends remain obscure, but near the end of the write-up about the study, a hint might be apparent
Scientists think constructing a miles-long wall along an ice shelf in Antarctica could help protect the world's largest glacier from melting.
- Rising ocean levels are a serious threat to coastal regions around the globe.
- Scientists have proposed large-scale geoengineering projects that would prevent ice shelves from melting.
- The most successful solution proposed would be a miles-long, incredibly tall underwater wall at the edge of the ice shelves.
The world's oceans will rise significantly over the next century if the massive ice shelves connected to Antarctica begin to fail as a result of global warming.
To prevent or hold off such a catastrophe, a team of scientists recently proposed a radical plan: build underwater walls that would either support the ice or protect it from warm waters.
In a paper published in The Cryosphere, Michael Wolovick and John Moore from Princeton and the Beijing Normal University, respectively, outlined several "targeted geoengineering" solutions that could help prevent the melting of western Antarctica's Florida-sized Thwaites Glacier, whose melting waters are projected to be the largest source of sea-level rise in the foreseeable future.
An "unthinkable" engineering project
"If [glacial geoengineering] works there then we would expect it to work on less challenging glaciers as well," the authors wrote in the study.
One approach involves using sand or gravel to build artificial mounds on the seafloor that would help support the glacier and hopefully allow it to regrow. In another strategy, an underwater wall would be built to prevent warm waters from eating away at the glacier's base.
The most effective design, according to the team's computer simulations, would be a miles-long and very tall wall, or "artificial sill," that serves as a "continuous barrier" across the length of the glacier, providing it both physical support and protection from warm waters. Although the study authors suggested this option is currently beyond any engineering feat humans have attempted, it was shown to be the most effective solution in preventing the glacier from collapsing.
Source: Wolovick et al.
An example of the proposed geoengineering project. By blocking off the warm water that would otherwise eat away at the glacier's base, further sea level rise might be preventable.
But other, more feasible options could also be effective. For example, building a smaller wall that blocks about 50% of warm water from reaching the glacier would have about a 70% chance of preventing a runaway collapse, while constructing a series of isolated, 1,000-foot-tall columns on the seafloor as supports had about a 30% chance of success.
Still, the authors note that the frigid waters of the Antarctica present unprecedently challenging conditions for such an ambitious geoengineering project. They were also sure to caution that their encouraging results shouldn't be seen as reasons to neglect other measures that would cut global emissions or otherwise combat climate change.
"There are dishonest elements of society that will try to use our research to argue against the necessity of emissions' reductions. Our research does not in any way support that interpretation," they wrote.
"The more carbon we emit, the less likely it becomes that the ice sheets will survive in the long term at anything close to their present volume."
A 2015 report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine illustrates the potentially devastating effects of ice-shelf melting in western Antarctica.
"As the oceans and atmosphere warm, melting of ice shelves in key areas around the edges of the Antarctic ice sheet could trigger a runaway collapse process known as Marine Ice Sheet Instability. If this were to occur, the collapse of the West Antarctic Ice Sheet (WAIS) could potentially contribute 2 to 4 meters (6.5 to 13 feet) of global sea level rise within just a few centuries."
The world's getting hotter, and it's getting more volatile. We need to start thinking about how climate change encourages conflict.
- Climate change is usually discussed in terms of how it impacts the weather, but this fails to emphasize how climate change is a "threat multiplier."
- As a threat multiplier, climate change makes already dangerous social and political situations even worse.
- Not only do we have to work to minimize the impact of climate change on our environment, but we also have to deal with how it affects human issues today.
Human beings are great at responding to imminent and visible threats. Climate change, while dire, is almost entirely the opposite: it's slow, it's pervasive, it's vague, and it's invisible. Researchers and policymakers have been trying to package climate change in a way that conveys its severity. Usually, they do so by talking about its immediate effects: rising temperature, rising sea levels, and increasingly dangerous weather.
These things are bad, make no mistake about it. But the thing that makes climate change truly dire isn't that Cape Cod will be underwater next century, that polar bears will go extinct, or that we'll have to invent new categories for future hurricanes. It's the thousands of ancillary effects — the indirect pressure that climate change puts on every person on the planet.
How a drought in the Middle East contributed to extremism in Europe
(DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP/Getty Images)
Nigel Farage in front of a billboard that leverages the immigration crisis to support Brexit.
Because climate change is too big for the mind to grasp, we'll have to use a case study to talk about this. The Syrian civil war is a horrific tangle of senseless violence, but there are some primary causes we can point to. There is the longstanding conflicts between different religious sects in that country. Additionally, the Arab Spring swept Syria up in a wave of resistance against authoritarian leaders in the Middle East — unfortunately, Syrian protests were brutally squashed by Bashar Al-Assad. These, and many other factors, contributed to the start of the Syrian civil war.
One of these other factors was drought. In fact, the drought in that region — it started in 2006 — has been described as the "worst long-term drought and most severe set of crop failures since agricultural civilization began in the Fertile Crescent many millennia ago." Because of this drought, many rural Syrians could no longer support themselves. Between 2006 and 2009, an estimated 1.5 million Syrians — many of them agricultural workers and farmers — moved into the country's major cities. With this sudden mixing of different social groups in a country where classes and religious sects were already at odds with one another, tensions rose, and the increased economic instability encouraged chaos. Again, the drought didn't cause the civil war — but it sure as hell helped it along.
The ensuing flood of refugees to Europe is already a well-known story. The immigration crisis was used as a talking point in the Brexit movement to encourage Britain to leave the EU. Authoritarian or extreme-right governments and political parties have sprung up in France, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, and other European countries, all of which have capitalized on fears of the immigration crisis.
Why climate change is a "threat multiplier"
This is why both NATO and the Pentagon have labeled climate change as a "threat multiplier." On its own, climate change doesn't cause these issues — rather, it exacerbates underlying problems in societies around the world. Think of having a heated discussion inside a slowly heating-up car.
Climate change is often discussed in terms of its domino effect: for example, higher temperatures around the world melt the icecaps, releasing methane stored in the polar ice that contributes to the rise in temperature, which both reduces available land for agriculture due to drought and makes parts of the ocean uninhabitable for different animal species, wreaking havoc on the food chain, and ultimately making food more scarce.
Maybe we should start to consider climate change's domino effect in more human and political terms. That is, in terms of the dominoes of sociopolitical events spurred on by climate change and the missing resources it gobbles up.
What the future may hold
(NASA via Getty Images)
Increasingly severe weather events will make it more difficult for nations to avoid conflict.
Part of why this is difficult to see is because climate change does not affect all countries proportionally — at least, not in a direct sense. Germanwatch, a German NGO, releases a climate change index every year to analyze exactly how badly different countries have been affected by climate change. The top five most at-risk countries are Haiti, Zimbabwe, Fiji, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Notice that many of these places are islands, which are at the greatest risk for major storms and rising sea levels. Some island nations are even expected to literally disappear — the leaders of these nations are actively making plans to move their citizens to other countries.
But Germanwatch's climate change index is based on weather events. It does not account for the political and social instability that will likely result. The U.S. and many parts of Europe are relatively low on the index, but that is precisely why these countries will most likely need to deal with the human cost of climate change. Refugees won't go from the frying pan into the fire: they'll go to the closest, safest place available.
Many people's instinctive response to floods of immigrants is to simply make borders more restrictive. This makes sense — a nation's first duty is to its own citizens, after all. Unfortunately, people who support stronger immigration policies tend to have right-wing authoritarian tendencies. This isn't always the case, of course, but anecdotally, we can look at the governments in Europe that have stricter immigration policies. Hungary, for example, has extremely strict policies against Muslim immigrants. It's also rapidly turning into a dictatorship. The country has cracked down on media organizations and NGOs, eroded its judicial system's independence, illegalized homelessness, and banned gender studies courses.
Climate change and its sociopolitical effects, such as refugee migration, aren't some poorer country's problem. It's everyone's problem. Whether it's our food, our homes, or our rights, climate change will exact a toll on every nation on Earth. Stopping climate change, or at least reducing its impact, is vitally important. Equally important is contending with the multifaceted threats its going to throw our way.
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