Q: Is OKCupid paying you to do this?
A: Nope. We just think doing this is neat.
That is a question that is asked a lot.
We are market research professionals who think it is awesome to use techniques usually reserved to examine the language of Fortune 500 companies to craft their messages to an aspect of modern life that is known, accessible, and challenging - online dating. Writing on personal summary profile is one of the most stressful tasks you can give a person and it is the first thing online dating websites ask you to do. There are many directions one can take when asked to write personal essays and figured that some of those ways must be better than others.
Our findings are applicable to any dating website that involves writing. We used OKCupid because it is free and very popular in the New York City metropolitan area. They also really like data even going so far as to start their own data blog, OKTrends. Tinder, JDate, Match, Eharmony, Hinge and many other dating sites/apps use a profile-with-picture based format where this information can be used.
The "P"s and "M"s
In the beginning stages of our research we asked the question: How does a person online date? What is the process someone goes through to get from browsing through the sea of profiles to sharing a table? During the course of the interviews we found the same process repeated across the board.
This process we call the Ps&Ms.
The profile photo first acts as an attention getter, a sparkley flash showing the outline of a person to get a viewer's eye. The profile fills the outline with shades of color, articles of clothing, shape of the smile. Reviewing the photos in further detail, the viewer attempts to resolve what they have just read with the visuals provided. Once the viewer has a mental image of this person they will craft a message based off the information provided. If the messaging goes well the an in person meeting will happen.
The beginning stages are a back and forth between photo and profile. Each is important on their own and each much compliment the other in order to get to the messaging stage. It is with this in mind that we approach the written profile as an important aspect of online dating.
What it means to online date
We feel the popular believe is that a novice online dater first fills out their profile expecting to meet the love of their life. Well, that might happen. What is more likely is that you will meet a whole bunch of people and maybe hit it off with two or three and possibly end up with one. It is not a numbers game but online dating is a tool to help you meet people. What relationships you form with those people is left up to you.
We tried to keep in mind during our research: The ultimate point is to find someone you love. The point of internet dating is to meet people, one of which you might love.
This is an important distinction. Please keep it in mind as you consider this project and how it relates to your dating life.
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