Research question for online dating
Besides photographs, each user's profile could include any number of personal details including age, height, weight, education, marital status, number of children, and smoking and drinking habits.
The data set includes some 1.1 million interactions between users.
These patterns also generally held for the second step, messaging, but with smaller effects. The results convince Ken-Hou Lin, a sociologist at the University of Texas, Austin, who also studies online dating.
"The science is absolutely solid." He suspects that deal breakers are more important at the early stage of mate selection when people are winnowing down a pool of candidates.
If a profile did not include a photo, for example, both men and women were 20 times less likely to even look at the rest of the person's profile.
Smoking was another big deal breaker, associated with a 10-fold drop in interest.
"That men care about height at all is, we suspect, a function of their realizing they may get rejected if they aren't quite a bit taller than their potential mates," she adds.
One complication is that online daters are not making just one decision, but several in a series: First, people are swiping their way through profiles and deciding which to dismiss immediately or browse more closely.
When it comes to the early stage of dating, it seems to be all about the deal breakers.