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You feel the room shrink, your heart rate quicken, your face go red: You’re crushing on this stranger, Wait a second, you counter: Do dating “leagues” even exist? But you’re not alone in trying to escape yours: “Three-quarters, or more, of people are dating aspirationally,” she says.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.“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.White men and Asian women are consistently more desired than other users, while black women rank anomalously lower.is coded as female, so that’s why Asian women get so much market power and Asian men get so little,” she told me.The team had to analyze both first messages and first replies, because, well, men usually make the first move.
“This site is predominantly white, 70 percent white.It’s not just that older men are considered most desirable in New York.“New York is a special case for men,” Bruch told me.“It’s the market with the highest fraction of 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.If you contacted a much less desirable person, their desirability score would rise; if they contacted you then your score would fall.