Because of this plethora of data from tens of thousands of profiles, the researchers were able to figure out what kind of person received the most message. Some people, called a source, send more messages, and others receive more messages.
Online dating study: Are you chasing people 'out of your league'?
Those who send more are at the bottom, and those who receive more are at the top," internet sociologist Bernie Hogan, who is not affiliated with the study, said in an interview. For example, the study found that higher education is always more "desirable" in men, while an education beyond an undergraduate degree decreases a woman's desirability. Age is also a factor.
If the data is coming from the United States, it should reinforce what individuals in the United States believe, he explained. And when it comes to age, since "MILF" is one of the highest searched words on PornHub , clearly the data doesn't fully express the market.
A few other disturbing trends were also revealed in the data. Black women and Asian men were also considered the least desirable in all four cities. Also, Seattle is the least hospitable dating climate for men, with two men to every one female. The study found that the higher up we reach, the longer our messages tend to get -- and the less likely we'll get a message back.
How can we figure out who's in and who's out? That number for me was really striking.
Out of your league? Study shows most online daters seek more desirable mates
The data come from nearly , heterosexual daters on a "popular, free online dating service" in New York, Chicago, Seattle and Boston, according to the study. The researchers did not name the dating service due to a nondisclosure agreement they signed with the company, Bruch said.
Online dating lowers self-esteem and increases depression, studies say. In messaging women higher up the ladder, the best men can hope for, on average, is a reply to one out of every five messages. Finkel was not involved in the newly published research. Finkel said that this strategy seems "rational" given the low costs of sending a message online.
But it might play out very differently in person -- at a party, for example -- where you can see who's surrounded by wooers and "redirect your attention to other prospects," he said. Bruch measured "desirability" by looking at how many messages a user received and how popular the senders were. To rank online daters from least to most desirable, she used the same algorithm that Google's search engine uses.
More Americans living without partners, especially young adults. A woman's average desirability begins to drop from the time she's Men, however, peak around age When it comes to education, for men, more is better. Not so for women, whose desirability peaks with an undergraduate degree but takes a hit with postgraduate education -- even when correcting for age.
Race plays heavily into the results, with Asian women and white men being the most sought after overall.