Internet dating observations
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Thus, a mate seeker must first decide whom to “browse”—that is, which subset of profiles to consider—and then, among those browsed, to whom to write.
Informative features of mate choice behavior are revealed at each stage, and choices made at the browsing stage restrict which alternatives are subsequently available.
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Online activity data—for example, from dating, housing search, or social networking websites—make it possible to study human behavior with unparalleled richness and granularity.
Researchers in the fields of quantitative marketing and transportation research have built on these insights to develop sophisticated models of individual-level behavior for which a choice history is available, such as for frequently purchased supermarket goods.
However, these models are not directly applicable to major problems of sociological interest, like choices about where to live, what colleges to apply to, and whom to date or marry.
Harnessing the full informatory power of activity data requires models that capture decision-making processes and other features of human behavior.
A nonparametric account of heterogeneity reveals that, even after controlling for a host of observable attributes, mate evaluation differs across decision stages as well as across identified groupings of men and women.
Our statistical framework can be widely applied in analyzing large-scale data on multistage choices, which typify searches for “big ticket” items.
Specifically, we leverage and extend recent advances in change point mixture modeling to allow a flexible, data-driven account of not only which attributes of a potential mate matter, but also where they function as “deal breakers.”Our approach allows for multiple decision stages, with potentially different rules at each.
For example, we assess whether the initial stages of mate search can be identified empirically as “noncompensatory”: filtering someone out based on an insufficiency of a particular attribute, regardless of their merits on others.
Our model aims to describe mate choice as it unfolds online.