Data Science/Computational Social Science Seminar: Elizabeth Bruch

Thu, 09/19/2019 - 12:00pm to 1:00pm

Ehrlicher Room, 3100 North Quad 

How (and Why) Online Dating Experiences Differ across American Cities


Social scientists have long shown that city-level differences in patterns of assortative mating, marriage rates, and non-marital childbearing are associated with labor market conditions and partnering opportunities. But it is difficult to observe the interactions that give rise to romantic outcomes in different places. As a result, we know little about whether, how, and why romantic experiences differ across cities. In this talk, I present results from a new study that uses rich activity data from a large, U.S. dating website to explore how population composition interacts with mate-seeking behavior to shape men and women's online romantic experience. Building on insights from psychology and behavioral ecology, I focus on two distinct classes of behavior: choice/preferences and competition. I show that mate seekers in different U.S. cities have divergent strategies for mate pursuit: they differ in their preferences, pickiness, and intensity of competition. In the final section, I focus on individuals who appear to change markets, to assess whether and how changing contexts is associated with a change in strategies for mate pursuit. This study represents a novel quantitative effort to show how men and women's mate-seeking behaviors differ systematically with their opportunities. 

Speaker Bio

Elizabeth Bruch is an Associate Professor of Sociology and Complex Systems at the University of Michigan, an External Faculty member at the Santa Fe Institute, and a fellow this year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Berlin. Her research combines substantive knowledge of human behavior from cognitive science, marketing, and decision theory with statistical techniques and richly textured online activity data in an effort to understand the dynamic interplay between human behavior and social environments.