Thursday, July 27, 2006

dating update

As it turns out, I’m not crazy. In the working paper, What Makes you Click, by Günter J. Hitsch, Ali Hortaçsu, and Dan Ariely © at MIT, they state that in strategies, “a man with a low attractiveness rating may not approach a highly attractive woman if the probability of forming a match with her is low, such that the expected utility from a match is lower than the cost of writing an e-mail or the disutility from a possible rejection.” My point in reciting their example is that if economists believe that there might be a “disutility” from getting rejected, then the disutility does exist for some people.

The authors decide to assume that such strategies aren’t used, although that’s merely for their study. And even supposing the strategies aren’t used they “cannot ultimately reject the possibility that some strategic behavior is present in the data.” All of this means that they know some people have disutility from getting rejected, and that it does exist, but that it’s hard to measure as well as the fact that people still prefer attractive mates. Moreover, the authors cite that the “market equilibrium” matches each mate to another. And of course, the reason I’m reading this and other paper is to help me find out what market I might be dealing with.

Therefore, the intense and constant rhetoric that I face from my fellow peers and friends about “nothing to lose” is an inherently flawed argument. The fact is that there is something to lose; it’s just not as big a cost to most. Also of note is the fact that past experiences and data do impact current events and possibly forecast what may happen in future ventures. Consequently, if we assume that I’ve been on the “dating market” for 8 years (since I was 15), then we can safely say that my current ratio of 0::21 (in girls who said yes to total girls asked out) is abysmal. Mind you, I’m not counting two girls because they are arguable cases. In short, neither of these girls wanted to “date” for more than two days. Trust me; you’ve probably been there too.

Some interesting statistics in this paper… “In our data, 71% of men’s and 56% of women’s first-contact e-mails in our data are rejected, i.e. do not receive a reply.” Those are not the kind of numbers I was hoping for. Fear of rejection, oh yeah, you can bet I have it now. And if you think that someone through the service might contact me, try on this finding… “56.4% of all men in the sample did not receive a first-contact e-mail at all, whereas only 21.1% of all women were never approached.”

In the end, here’s the major correlation. .71 (insanely significant) is the age correlation that the authors observed. Added, .33 (also significant) is the looks correlation. Therefore, age and looks do in fact matter, i.e. you need to be a good looking man if you would like to have a good looking woman. The authors even go far as to provide an attribute tradeoff. Therefore, it would take an ugly man (someone in the lowest decile of looks) an additional income of $186,000 a year would be needed for that man “to compensate for his poor looks,” against the good looking man who makes $62,500.

As for woman, their income factor does not have as much effect, so a ridiculously large sum of money would be needed if they would want to compensate for their poor looks. However, “these results should not be taken fully literally—functional form assumptions, distributional assumptions, and sampling error will generally influence the precise income compensation numbers.”

Personally, the utility for me as to a possible match from an online personal or dating service does not outweigh the disutility that I receive from the possible crazy people who might want to interact with me. Also of note, in mentioning that the market equilibrium will find each person a match, I believe that there is a possibility that my preference might not be in line with what would be the easy market-match mate for me. Simply put, I may not be attractive, funny, tactful, or rich enough to date the girls that I’ve asked.

My question to anyone who would like to respond… Do you know of someone whom you think has “too high” of a standard in just asking out someone? I’m not speaking of the break-ups; I’m speaking of just approaching and asking someone out. Do you know of someone who won’t ask someone out because they don’t like the way they look, and you think they’re crazy and need new glasses? In my own experience, I have yet to see anyone I know have overtly high standards just for asking someone out on a date.
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