Why You Might Not Be Swiping Right Enough On Dating Apps

Nick Levine

Both women and men tend to "punch up" on dating apps, according to new research.

A study by the University of Michigan published in the Science Advances journal found that, on average, women on dating apps send messages to men 23% more attractive than them.

Men are slightly more likely to "punch up" on dating apps, generally sending messages to women 26% more attractive than them.

The study is based on a pretty extensive data sweep in the US. Its co-authors analysed messages sent by almost 200,000 dating app users in New York, Boston, Chicago and Seattle during January 2014.

Disappointingly, the study also found that a toxic combination of sexism and ageism is all too real on dating apps. Women's relative desirability tends to decline from the age of 18, while men's tends to increase until they reach the age of 50.

However, the study's co-author Dr Elizabeth Bruch said the results suggest women should be more proactive when it comes to sending messages to people they match with.

"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 can get a response. So women can afford to be more aspirational than they are," she explained.

She also advised dating app users not to be wary of sending a message even if they feel they might be "punching up".

"Even if the probability of getting a reply when you are messaging a more desirable partner is low, it is not zero," she added.

Interestingly, the study found too that dating app users tend to send longer opening messages to people they consider especially attractive. So next time you wake up to a small paragraph from someone you've matched with, you may well be onto a winner.

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