Forget 'opposites attract' — these are the common traits most likely to net you a match on a dating app

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  • Even though “opposites attract” is a common notion, people are more likely to match on the dating app Hinge with potential partners that have traits in common with them.
  • A new study using data from Hinge suggests that similar educational backgrounds, religious affiliations, and even initials make matches more likely on the app.
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Even though “opposites attract” is a common notion, it turns out people are more likely to match on a popular dating app with potential partners who have various traits in common with them.

A recent study published in Frontiers in Psychology takes a look at data from the dating app Hinge and suggests that similarities can help in making romantic connections.

The study, by Jon Levy and Moran Cerf of the Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, and Devin Markell of Hinge, analysed the outcomes of over 421 million potential matches on Hinge to see how similarities in education, religion, and other traits visible on the app affected the likelihood of two people actually matching and having a conversation that included some indication of wanting to communicate outside the dating app.

Hinge is a dating app that presents users with a set of potential matches. Users see a photo of a potential match, and then choose to swipe right if they are interested in the person or left if they are not. If two users both swipe right on each other, indicating mutual interest, they are able to chat with each other in the app.

The study takes a look at how many potential matches actually expressed mutual interest, held a conversation, and exchanged some form of contact info (like a phone number) to allow for off-app communication. The authors defined the latter as an “effective match,” with the idea that a dating app like Hinge has done its job once two people start conversing elsewhere or meet in person.


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In an unsurprising result for anyone who has used a dating app of this format, the baseline rates for conversations and exchanging contact info are very low. The study found that 0.51% of all the potential 421 million matches between heterosexual men and women in the data sample actually led to a conversation, and just 0.12% exchanged off-app contact info.

Of course, those low percentages still represent a large number of people connecting on the app. The study reported about 2.1 million conversations and 500,000 effective matches.

The main result of the study was that those effective match rates became quite a bit higher when users had various traits in common.

Education was one of those factors. The study compared users who said on their profiles that they attended a liberal arts college on the U.S. News and World Report’s annual rankings to users who attended a ranked non-liberal-arts college or a school not on the U.S. News rankings. When both respondents attended a ranked liberal arts college, the likelihood of them having an effective match was 34.6% higher than when one user attended such a school and the other went to an unranked school.

When two users both attended an Ivy League school, they were 64.3% more likely to match than if one attended an Ivy and the other didn’t.

The study found that religion had a similarly large effect on match rates. Among users who listed a religious affiliation, effective matches were almost twice as likely between two users with the same affiliation than for mixed potential couples. The authors also noted that this effect was stronger among smaller religious groups in the sample, like Hindus and Muslims, than larger groups, like Christians and Jews.

What type of connection users were looking for on the app also affected match rates. Users can select any combination of the three options “casual,” “dating,” or “relationship” in a field describing what kind of relationship they’re looking for. As elsewhere, the study found that two people who chose the same options had higher match rates than pairs where one person chose an option and the other did not.

Some more surprising similarities also helped with matching. Users with the same initials were slightly more likely than users with different initials to make an effective match. However, that difference was quite a bit smaller than some of the other attributes in the study.

The authors noted some limitations of the study. They pointed out that Hinge’s user population is predominantly heterosexual, and results might not generalise to LGBT dating or other communities. They also note that the main measure of an “effective match” is based an a computer-automated search for exchanging off-app contact information, which could rule out other outcomes from a conversation.

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