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
The Internet of Things can drive efficiency for airlines and airports. In their session at @ThingsExpo, Shyam Varan Nath, Principal Architect with GE, and Sudip Majumder, senior director of development at Oracle, will discuss the technical details of the connected airline baggage and related social media solutions. These IoT applications will enhance travelers' journey experience and drive efficiency for the airlines and the airports. The session will include a working demo and a technical d...
SYS-CON Events announced today the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp, being held November 1-2, 2016, in conjunction with 19th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Combined with real-world scenarios and use cases, the Enterprise IoT Bootcamp is not just based on presentations but with hands-on demos and detailed walkthroughs. We will introduce you to a variety of real world use cases prototyped using Arduino, Raspberry Pi, BeagleBone, Spark, and Intel Edison. Y...
Fact is, enterprises have significant legacy voice infrastructure that’s costly to replace with pure IP solutions. How can we bring this analog infrastructure into our shiny new cloud applications? There are proven methods to bind both legacy voice applications and traditional PSTN audio into cloud-based applications and services at a carrier scale. Some of the most successful implementations leverage WebRTC, WebSockets, SIP and other open source technologies. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Da...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at EMC, will introduce a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organizati...
Traditional on-premises data centers have long been the domain of modern data platforms like Apache Hadoop, meaning companies who build their business on public cloud were challenged to run Big Data processing and analytics at scale. But recent advancements in Hadoop performance, security, and most importantly cloud-native integrations, are giving organizations the ability to truly gain value from all their data. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, David Tishgart, Director of Product Marketing ...
If you’re responsible for an application that depends on the data or functionality of various IoT endpoints – either sensors or devices – your brand reputation depends on the security, reliability, and compliance of its many integrated parts. If your application fails to deliver the expected business results, your customers and partners won't care if that failure stems from the code you developed or from a component that you integrated. What can you do to ensure that the endpoints work as expect...
While DevOps promises a better and tighter integration among an organization’s development and operation teams and transforms an application life cycle into a continual deployment, Chef and Azure together provides a speedy, cost-effective and highly scalable vehicle for realizing the business values of this transformation. In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 19th Cloud Expo, Yung Chou, a Technology Evangelist at Microsoft, will present a unique opportunity to witness how Chef and Azure work tog...
The vision of a connected smart home is becoming reality with the application of integrated wireless technologies in devices and appliances. The use of standardized and TCP/IP networked wireless technologies in line-powered and battery operated sensors and controls has led to the adoption of radios in the 2.4GHz band, including Wi-Fi, BT/BLE and 802.15.4 applied ZigBee and Thread. This is driving the need for robust wireless coexistence for multiple radios to ensure throughput performance and th...
Information technology is an industry that has always experienced change, and the dramatic change sweeping across the industry today could not be truthfully described as the first time we've seen such widespread change impacting customer investments. However, the rate of the change, and the potential outcomes from today's digital transformation has the distinct potential to separate the industry into two camps: Organizations that see the change coming, embrace it, and successful leverage it; and...
I'm a lonely sensor. I spend all day telling the world how I'm feeling, but none of the other sensors seem to care. I want to be connected. I want to build relationships with other sensors to be more useful for my human. I want my human to understand that when my friends next door are too hot for a while, I'll soon be flaming. And when all my friends go outside without me, I may be left behind. Don't just log my data; use the relationship graph. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ryan Boyd, Engi...
SYS-CON Events announced today that China Unicom will exhibit at the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. China United Network Communications Group Co. Ltd ("China Unicom") was officially established in 2009 on the basis of the merger of former China Netcom and former China Unicom. China Unicom mainly operates a full range of telecommunications services including mobile broadband (GSM, WCDMA, LTE F...
Enterprise IT has been in the era of Hybrid Cloud for some time now. But it seems most conversations about Hybrid are focused on integrating AWS, Microsoft Azure, or Google ECM into existing on-premises systems. Where is all the Private Cloud? What do technology providers need to do to make their offerings more compelling? How should enterprise IT executives and buyers define their focus, needs, and roadmap, and communicate that clearly to the providers?
The Transparent Cloud-computing Consortium (abbreviation: T-Cloud Consortium) will conduct research activities into changes in the computing model as a result of collaboration between "device" and "cloud" and the creation of new value and markets through organic data processing High speed and high quality networks, and dramatic improvements in computer processing capabilities, have greatly changed the nature of applications and made the storing and processing of data on the network commonplace.
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
Digital innovation is the next big wave of business transformation based on digital technologies of which IoT and Big Data are key components, For example: Business boundary innovation is a challenge to excavate third-party business value using IoT and BigData, like Nest Business structure innovation may propose re-building business structure from scratch, as Uber does in the taxicab industry The social model innovation is also a big challenge to the new social architecture with the design fr...