Don’t you love being a guinea pig?
Popular dating website OkCupid admitted that it conducted experiments on its users. President Christian Rudder wrote in a blog post that the website “took pairs of bad matches…and told them they were exceptionally good for each other.”
Well then, that has “good idea” written all over it.
So why did the website do this?
“I’m the first to admit it: we might be popular, we might create a lot of great relationships, we might blah blah blah. But OkCupid doesn’t really know what it’s doing. Neither does any other website,” Rudder wrote.
Essentially, the website conducted these experiments to see if their match system actually worked. And even though the experiment was deceptive, the results proved interesting.
For one, OkCupid found that if it told people they were a good match, they would act like they were. In other words, even when people should be wrong for each other, the inverted match percentages ended up creating a higher likelihood that the couples would hit it off.
The experiment also found some less surprising things, like that your picture is all that really matters. When the website created fake profiles with really attractive images and absolutely no text, they still received a lot of attention. Conversely, when OkCupid temporarily removed images, Rudder found that the site “worked better.” People responded to messages more often, had deeper conversations and exchanged contact details more quickly.
But there was a snag: Once the pictures were restored, those conversations evaporated.
“It was like we’d turned on the bright lights at the bar at midnight,” Rudder wrote.
There is some good news though. If you were the subject of an experiment, OkCupid would have sent you an email saying that by now. Rudder also reports that the site has had 1 million visitors since it posted the article on its blog, and has received fewer than 10 complaints.
After all, love is a giant experiment all on its own.