There’s finally evidence to prove something we knew all along deep down: when searching for potential partners on dating apps, both men and women tend to veer towards people who are more desirable than themselves.
A study by University of Michigan, involving 200,000 dating app users in the US, found both men and women pursued people who were, on average, 25% more desirable than themselves.
For the study, published in Science Advances, desirability was calculated based on how many people had been in touch with them and how popular those people who had been in touch were, rather than attractiveness.
Average desirability was found to vary with age for both men and women. Frustratingly but perhaps unsurprisingly, older women were found to be less desirable while older men were more so. The average woman’s desirability drops from the time she is 18 until she is 60 while, for men, desirability peaks around 50 and then declines.
On average, women sent messages to men 23% more desirable than themselves, while men approached women who were 26% more desirable.
Researcher Dr Elizabeth Bruch, from University of Michigan, said women have much higher reply rates to their first messages than men - men’s average reply rate is around 17%, whereas for women, often more than half of their messages get a response. “[This means] women can afford to be more aspirational than they are,” she explained.
Interestingly, when we slide into a desirable person’s DMs, we put more effort in, the research showed. Both men and women tend to write substantially longer messages to more desirable partners, up to twice as long in some cases.
Dr Bruch concluded that persistence when messaging on dating apps can be a good thing. “Even if the probability of getting a reply when you are messaging a more desirable partner is low, it is not zero,” she said.