Online dating is renowned for just how efficiently it can open up a vast pool of potential partners.
This can be seen in how men and women choose to swipe on dating apps. It originated as a method of constructing economic models, but has since been applied extensively in evolutionary biology. At the heart of the theory lies the mathematician John Nash subject of the gorgeous film A Beautiful Mind and his Nash equilibrium.
This may lead to both players pursuing strategies that do not optimise their own per sebut do at least stop their opponent from gaining the upper hand. The Nash equilibrium occurs naturally from the fact that, if either player is in a position where they would benefit by changing their strategy, then they will do so, because they are trying to win. Their opponent inevitably reacts, leading to an indefinite cycle of strategising and counter-strategising, until both players settle on strategies which would not benefit from being altered.
What on earth has this got to do with online dating? Well, fascinatingly, the Nash equilibrium manifests in human courtship strategies: the behaviours of one sex cyclically reinforce those of the other.
Functionalist theory of online dating
By analysing dating apps through game theory, we find that men and women actually benefit from distinct swiping strategies. As men are so much less choosy on dating apps, let us assume reasonably that a man auto-swipes at a rate of one profile a second. Only when a match occurs does he consider her profile and decide whether to start up a conversation. Crucially, then, the man only invests energy once she has swiped yes on him.
It follows, then, that the only scenario in which auto-swiping is not the optimal strategy for men is when they are matching so often that the time cost of considering every profile actually takes less time than does auto-swiping which is unlikely for all but the most desirable lothario! Game theory comes further into its own when we consider the premiums rolled out by various companies that stop affording non -premium users the opportunity to pursue an indefinite auto-swipe regime at zero cost to themselves except in terms of their time.
Premiums have meant that dating app users also have to consider the likelihood of their yes swipe being reciprocated and it is important to note at this point that, premium or not, no swipes are always free. A payoff matrix below can be constructed as a visual representation of the game.
Players and playas: the game theory of online dating
The table represents a normal-form game between a man and a woman for the sake of this example, they are both non-premium memberswith payoffs and costs measured in terms of yes swipes which the free services limits to a finite per day. If he assumes that she will swipe no on him, he will obviously reciprocate so as to not lose a swipe. If, however, he assumes that she will swipe yeshe will generally do well to reciprocate, in order to create a match. This produces the two Nash equilibria, emboldened in the table. Game theory is about mind-reading : one player has to guess how the other player will play the game — then act accordingly.
Dating app users who cite engaging in casual, short-term relationships as a reason for using the apps are less discriminate about whom they swipe yes on and less concerned with reading bios before deciding how to swipe. Both of these behaviours are entirely normal, and it is a wonderful thing to live in such a liberal society — but, as game theory so elegantly illuminates, dating apps are almost inherently un conducive to the formation of meaningful, long-term, loving relationships. Romance is so often grounded in the history between two partners: how they met; what they have been through together; their mutual friends and interests.
Dating apps are arbitrary, random — and it is much harder to find love through them. There is an alternative. Matchmaking is the polar opposite of online dating; it is everything that online dating is not. Matchmaking is personable, warm; your matchmaker gets to know you as an individual and delves deeply into what you want, need, desire, what you value and what you ultimately aspire to in a relationship.
The relationship between online dating and personality characteristics
Why not get in touch today, and find out why our multiple awards and staggering success rate speak for themselves? Let us — not your thumb — find you the love you deserve. Tags: Dating advice exclusive matchmaking London love Matchmaking psychology Relationships. Joseph is an Assistant Matchmaker and hails from a small village in the English countryside, and moved to London in He has a long-held interest in evolutionary psychology, which spurred him to read Biological Anthropology at the University of Kent. Joseph received Honours with Distinction, and his thesis is in the process of publication, co-authored with world-famous evolutionary anthropologist Professor Volker Sommer.
Joseph is warm, friendly and patient which makes him a perfect fit to work with our busy Senior Matchmakers and plays a key role in helping our many clients meet their ultimate match. More by this author. Please insert the invite code given to you by a Vida consultant or Vida member in order to start your journey. Related articles. Award-winning matchmaking.
Theories of online dating
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The relationship between online dating and personality characteristics
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