Researchers Study Positives & Negatives Of Having A Large Online Dating User Base

Happines paradox

The vast user bases offered by the biggest dating platforms like Match or Tinder are both a blessing and a curse for singles using these platforms, a new study argues.

The research wanted to study the ecosystems of both a dating platform with a large user base, and one that controlled the amount of choice it offered customers.

To do this, the study, titled “Competing by Restricting Choice: The Case of Matching Platforms,” created its own model of an online dating site, where people matched with each other depending on how much they liked each other.

Researchers then increased the number of potential matches in the model to study the impact.

They found that increasing the number of potential matches had a positive effect because singles had a larger choice, but also a negative impact due to increased competition between people of the same sex.

This meant that although a platform like Match gives singles more choice, users are more likely to experience rejection because of increased competition.

The researchers compared this to a site like eHarmony, which is more restrictive, saying that because of the limited choice, singles were more likely to quickly find a match with someone that would be less likely to reject them.

The team explained: “Agents resolve the trade-off between these competing effects differently, depending on their outside options. For agents with high outside options, the choice effect is stronger than the competition effect, leading them to prefer an unrestricted-choice platform.

“The opposite is the case for agents with low outside options, who then have higher willingness to pay for a platform restricting choice, as it also restricts the choice set of their potential matches.

“Moreover, since only agents with low outside options self-select into the restricted choice platform, the competition effect is mitigated further.”

The authors of the study, Hanna Halaburda of the Bank of Canada, Mikolaj Piskorksi of IMD Business School, and Pinar Yildirim of the University of Pennsylvania, said this allowed the two types of platforms to “exist and prosper” in the market alongside each other.

The research was recently published in the INFORMS journal Management Science – read more here.