Jun 30, 2023 | 14:00—15:00
Elizabeth Bruch (University of Michigan) will present a talk on Friday, June 30th, at 2 PM at the Salon.
Title: Competition in Online Dating Markets
Abstract: The idea that mates pursuit unfolds in a market is the theoretical foundation for most social science studies of dating and marriage. Within that context, scholars argue that romantic pairings result from two factors: the preferences that people have for their partners and the demographic makeup of the market (i.e., opportunities). Much attention has been paid to measuring romantic preferences—that is, who desires whom—and also documenting how relationship patterns vary with market composition. But little attention has been paid to understanding how an individual’s preferences and opportunities combine in the market, i.e., the workings of the market. A market for dating or marriage implies that singles compete for desirable partners—this competition determines who ends up with whom and who ends up alone. While competition is shaped by preferences and opportunities, it is not a simple sum of these things.
In this paper, we present a novel framework for studying competition in dating or marriage markets and apply it to data on messaging patterns observed within an online dating site. Our analyses provide insight into the nature of competition in this market—for example, who is most competitive, who competes with whom, and who faces the stiffest competition—and how this competition arises out of preferences and opportunities. In doing so, we develop a deeper understanding of how population- and individual-level factors combine to shape relationship outcomes.
Bio: Elizabeth Bruch is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Complex Systems at the University of Michigan and an External Faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute. Her work describes how computationally limited humans make consequential decisions in highly structured social environments. Her current work focuses on mate pursuit in online dating markets, how students navigate complex college curriculums, and residential choice and segregation dynamics. Her work has been published in a number of purportedly high-profile venues such as Science, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and the American Journal of Sociology.