Welcome!

News Feed Item

Online Dating Reveals Political Polarization — Even in Romance

If you’ve ever used an online dating website, you’ve answered a litany of questions about yourself and your ideal match, and maybe even about your political affiliation. Although this information is sometimes hidden from view, new research shows that time and time again men and women choose to pursue romantic connections with people from their own political party and with similar political beliefs.

This was one of the key findings that emerged after Neil Malhotra, Stanford Graduate School of Business associate professor, and Gregory Huber, political science professor at Yale University, analyzed thousands of interactions from an online dating website. Their findings, presented in a research paper titled “Political Sorting in Social Relationships,” show that political affiliation rivals education level as one of the most important factors in identifying potential mates.

“We underestimate how much politics affects our daily lives,” says Malhotra. “After an election is over, we don’t think about it, but in fact our political affiliations strongly affect other aspects of our lives, such as our romantic choices.” And that has important implications beyond the households that politically similar individuals may form, he says.

“At the highest levels within our political system, we increasingly see that people are unwilling to work and communicate with each other,” he observes. “Simply put, our society has become more and more polarized, and we wanted to explore if political preferences in romantic relationships could begin to explain part of the divide in America.”

As Malhotra explains, when people pair with individuals of similar political beliefs, their households can become echo chambers that transmit extreme views to the children. In fact, research shows that children are more moderate if their parents have differing political viewpoints. There is a genetic story at play, as well. Studies of twins demonstrate a genetic predisposition for certain political beliefs, which suggests that offspring of like-minded individuals may be predisposed to more extreme beliefs.

With this context in mind, Malhotra and Huber embarked on a laboratory experiment in which they presented participants with online dating profiles. Participants evaluated profiles more positively (e.g. had greater interest in dating the targeted individual) when the target had their same political ideology and level of interest in politics. Study participants even found online candidate profiles more physically attractive if they shared similar political beliefs.

To validate these results, the researchers then formed a partnership with an online dating website, which provided the team a unique window to observe people’s beliefs and preferences before they meet and interact in a marriage market. It also provided a wealth of data since, according to a Pew Research study, 74% of single Americans seeking partners have used an online dating site.

The team developed a set of seven new questions that users were asked when signing up for the online dating service. The questions measured three different political characteristics: political identity, including party affiliation; issue positions; and political participation. Most users opted to keep their answers to these questions private, meaning that other users could not proactively search for potential mates using these criteria.

Nevertheless, after assessing how men and women interacted via the site’s messaging function, Malhotra and Huber found that — in line with the results from the lab study — shared political characteristics increased the messaging rates in statistically significant ways above a baseline rate. Shared partisanship increased messaging rates by 9.5%, shared levels of political interest increased messaging rates by 10.7%, and shared ideas about how to balance the budget increased messaging rates by 10.8%.

These are similar to the messaging boosts found from shared educational background (10.6%) and height (9.8%); slightly lower than race (16.6%); and lower than religion (50%). However, since political characteristics were not disclosed — unlike these other publicly disclosed characteristics — it shows “how strong the political effect is, and how easy it is for people to pick up on cues about political beliefs,” says Malhotra.

Unlike other research in the field, which demonstrates that shared political preferences develop after a relationship is formed, Malhotra and Huber have, in fact, uncovered that shared political preferences actually precede the formation of romantic relationships. This kind of “sorting” reduces political disagreement within the household, which, in turn, risks the creation of homogenous political enclaves. The bottom line? According to Malhotra, “Partisan polarization could get much worse.”

When asked what might help combat some of these effects, he says that interaction between people of differing viewpoints, backgrounds, and identities could help mitigate political polarization. It’s been suggested, for example, that racial integration in the workplace has resulted in greater tolerance. If schools and colleges give more attention to political discourse, it might have the same positive effects, he observes. On a larger scale, says Malhotra, our systems of political districting create extreme enclaves of like-minded people — a problem that needs to be addressed if we want to have any hope of changing the national political conversation.

More Stories By Business Wire

Copyright © 2009 Business Wire. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Business Wire content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Business Wire. Business Wire shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

Latest Stories
With more than 30 Kubernetes solutions in the marketplace, it's tempting to think Kubernetes and the vendor ecosystem has solved the problem of operationalizing containers at scale or of automatically managing the elasticity of the underlying infrastructure that these solutions need to be truly scalable. Far from it. There are at least six major pain points that companies experience when they try to deploy and run Kubernetes in their complex environments. In this presentation, the speaker will d...
While DevOps most critically and famously fosters collaboration, communication, and integration through cultural change, culture is more of an output than an input. In order to actively drive cultural evolution, organizations must make substantial organizational and process changes, and adopt new technologies, to encourage a DevOps culture. Moderated by Andi Mann, panelists discussed how to balance these three pillars of DevOps, where to focus attention (and resources), where organizations might...
The deluge of IoT sensor data collected from connected devices and the powerful AI required to make that data actionable are giving rise to a hybrid ecosystem in which cloud, on-prem and edge processes become interweaved. Attendees will learn how emerging composable infrastructure solutions deliver the adaptive architecture needed to manage this new data reality. Machine learning algorithms can better anticipate data storms and automate resources to support surges, including fully scalable GPU-c...
When building large, cloud-based applications that operate at a high scale, it's important to maintain a high availability and resilience to failures. In order to do that, you must be tolerant of failures, even in light of failures in other areas of your application. "Fly two mistakes high" is an old adage in the radio control airplane hobby. It means, fly high enough so that if you make a mistake, you can continue flying with room to still make mistakes. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Le...
Machine learning has taken residence at our cities' cores and now we can finally have "smart cities." Cities are a collection of buildings made to provide the structure and safety necessary for people to function, create and survive. Buildings are a pool of ever-changing performance data from large automated systems such as heating and cooling to the people that live and work within them. Through machine learning, buildings can optimize performance, reduce costs, and improve occupant comfort by ...
As Cybric's Chief Technology Officer, Mike D. Kail is responsible for the strategic vision and technical direction of the platform. Prior to founding Cybric, Mike was Yahoo's CIO and SVP of Infrastructure, where he led the IT and Data Center functions for the company. He has more than 24 years of IT Operations experience with a focus on highly-scalable architectures.
The explosion of new web/cloud/IoT-based applications and the data they generate are transforming our world right before our eyes. In this rush to adopt these new technologies, organizations are often ignoring fundamental questions concerning who owns the data and failing to ask for permission to conduct invasive surveillance of their customers. Organizations that are not transparent about how their systems gather data telemetry without offering shared data ownership risk product rejection, regu...
CI/CD is conceptually straightforward, yet often technically intricate to implement since it requires time and opportunities to develop intimate understanding on not only DevOps processes and operations, but likely product integrations with multiple platforms. This session intends to bridge the gap by offering an intense learning experience while witnessing the processes and operations to build from zero to a simple, yet functional CI/CD pipeline integrated with Jenkins, Github, Docker and Azure...
René Bostic is the Technical VP of the IBM Cloud Unit in North America. Enjoying her career with IBM during the modern millennial technological era, she is an expert in cloud computing, DevOps and emerging cloud technologies such as Blockchain. Her strengths and core competencies include a proven record of accomplishments in consensus building at all levels to assess, plan, and implement enterprise and cloud computing solutions. René is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and a m...
Dhiraj Sehgal works in Delphix's product and solution organization. His focus has been DevOps, DataOps, private cloud and datacenters customers, technologies and products. He has wealth of experience in cloud focused and virtualized technologies ranging from compute, networking to storage. He has spoken at Cloud Expo for last 3 years now in New York and Santa Clara.
Enterprises are striving to become digital businesses for differentiated innovation and customer-centricity. Traditionally, they focused on digitizing processes and paper workflow. To be a disruptor and compete against new players, they need to gain insight into business data and innovate at scale. Cloud and cognitive technologies can help them leverage hidden data in SAP/ERP systems to fuel their businesses to accelerate digital transformation success.
Containers and Kubernetes allow for code portability across on-premise VMs, bare metal, or multiple cloud provider environments. Yet, despite this portability promise, developers may include configuration and application definitions that constrain or even eliminate application portability. In this session we'll describe best practices for "configuration as code" in a Kubernetes environment. We will demonstrate how a properly constructed containerized app can be deployed to both Amazon and Azure ...
Poor data quality and analytics drive down business value. In fact, Gartner estimated that the average financial impact of poor data quality on organizations is $9.7 million per year. But bad data is much more than a cost center. By eroding trust in information, analytics and the business decisions based on these, it is a serious impediment to digital transformation.
Digital Transformation: Preparing Cloud & IoT Security for the Age of Artificial Intelligence. As automation and artificial intelligence (AI) power solution development and delivery, many businesses need to build backend cloud capabilities. Well-poised organizations, marketing smart devices with AI and BlockChain capabilities prepare to refine compliance and regulatory capabilities in 2018. Volumes of health, financial, technical and privacy data, along with tightening compliance requirements by...
Predicting the future has never been more challenging - not because of the lack of data but because of the flood of ungoverned and risk laden information. Microsoft states that 2.5 exabytes of data are created every day. Expectations and reliance on data are being pushed to the limits, as demands around hybrid options continue to grow.