Analyzing decision-making rules in online dating

8/31/2016 feature story

Elizabeth Bruch and colleagues model mate choice as it unfolds via online dating activity data, with multiple decision stages and the potential for distinct rules at each stage.

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Elizabeth Eve Bruch

Publication Information:

Bruch, Elizabeth Eve, Fred Feinberg, and Kee Yeun Lee. 2016. "Extracting multistage screening rules from online dating activity data." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 113(38): 10530-10535. PMCID: PMC5035909.

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. However, researchers typically rely on statistical models that emphasize associations among variables rather than behavior of human actors. Harnessing the full informatory power of activity data requires models that capture decision-making processes and other features of human behavior. Our model aims to describe mate choice as it unfolds online. It allows for exploratory behavior and multiple decision stages, with the possibility of distinct evaluation rules at each stage. This framework is flexible and extendable, and it can be applied in other substantive domains where decision makers identify viable options from a larger set of possibilities.

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