It's Not OK Cupid: Co-Founder Defends User Experiments

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The science behind a selfie might help you score a date online. (Danil Nevsky/Shutterstock)

Online dating can feel like a shot in the dark, but for those in the business of selling match-making services online, there's no much mystery to it. It's all about data and algorithmic calculations—not about kismet.

But this week, online dating giant OKCupid came under some fire for taking the "scientific approach" to match-making to the next level when it revealed that it had conducted experiments on the site's users.

It's not the first time OKCupid has done research on the behavior of its members. In the past, the site's team has used its trove of data to identify things like whether smiling or making a flirty face in a profile picture gets the most response, or how much skin to show in a photo, and even what brand and make of camera to use for the most attention-getting headshot.

What makes the online dating company's latest research a little different, however, is that it actually involved manipulating the information users received about potential matches. 

Christian Rudder, co-founder of OKCupid and author of the forthcoming book "Dataclysm," weighs in on his site's recent experiments. 


Christian Rudder

Hosted by:

Todd Zwillich

Produced by:

Mythili Rao


T.J. Raphael

Comments [5]

Lavern McDonald from Bedford Stuyvesant, NY

Dear Friends at the Takeaway,

Has OK Cupid updated this very illuminating 2009 study?

How Your Race Affects The Messages You Get

Jul. 31 2014 03:32 PM
Katharine from New York

"You didn't do this for the public good, you did this for your good."

If their purpose is to improve their algorithm and therefore their services to their clients, isn't that for the good of the consumer?

I feel like the host tried to make this into a much bigger issue than it actually is, and way too black and white, good vs. bad. Makes it sound like NPR is very out of touch with the basics of how the internet works (not saying that the host is ill-informed, this is just what I got from the tone and way it was presented). Might want to consider that as you try to draw younger listeners.

Jul. 30 2014 04:02 PM
sophia from Brooklyn

Everyone loves to laugh. Everyone like to have fun. Everyone likes to eat. Nobody wants drama.
Guys think you're fabulous ---then suddenly vanish. Few read your profile. Haven't met anyone psychotic. The really stable and rounded people are a needle in a haystack.

Jul. 30 2014 04:01 PM
David from Minneapolis, Minnesota

My criteria is a higher match rating along with my finding the person(s): beautiful/healthy, loving/kind, intelligent/wise and the best Nakshatra compatibility.

Polyamorous and 420 friendly would probably be a given with the highest match ratings.

Jul. 30 2014 02:33 PM

I actually met my husband through online dating, and today is our 3 year wedding anniversary! We are both pretty introverted so the idea of actually going out and trying to meet people seemed impossible. We connected over emails, and when we first met, it was as if we had known each other forever. I don't think online dating is for everyone, but it worked for us.

Jul. 30 2014 01:00 PM

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