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But people do not seem universally locked into them—and they can occasionally find success escaping from theirs.The key, Bruch said, is that “persistence pays off.”“Reply rates [to the average message] are between zero percent and 10 percent,” she told me.can give us significant insight about who they are interested in.”The team combined all that data by using the Page Rank algorithm, the same software that helps inform Google’s search results.It found that—insofar as dating “leagues” are not different tiers of hotness, but a single ascending hierarchy of desirability—then they do seem to exist in the data.At this point, Elizabeth Bruch, a professor of sociology at the University of Michigan, crashes in to your thought process (and this news article). And according to a new study, users of online-dating sites spend most of their time trying to contact people “out of their league.”In fact, most online-dating users tend to message people more desirable than they are. She’s spent the past few years studying how people make decisions and pursue partners on online-dating sites, using exclusive data from the dating sites themselves.“There’s so much folk wisdom about dating and courtship, and very little scientific evidence,” she told me recently.

Whoever said online dating is easy never agonized over the perfect profile photo, tried to write a clever bio, or dodged creepers, scammers, and catfishers.

“My research comes out of realizing that with these large-scale data sets, we can shed light on a lot of these old dating aphorisms.” Bruch and her colleagues analyzed thousands of messages exchanged on a “popular, free online-dating service” between more than 186,000 straight men and women.

They looked only at four metro areas—New York, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle—and only at messages from January 2014. Your specific desirability rank would have been generated by two figures: whether other desirable people contacted you, and whether other desirable people responded when you contacted them.

“This site is predominantly white, 70 percent white.

If this was a site that was 20 percent white, we may see a totally different desirability hierarchy.”“Other people have done research using data from online-dating sites, and found similar racial and gender hierarchies,” said Rosenfeld, the Stanford professor.

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