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
SYS-CON Events announced today that NetApp has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. NetApp is the data authority for hybrid cloud. NetApp provides a full range of hybrid cloud data services that simplify management of applications and data across cloud and on-premises environments to accelerate digital transformation. Together with their partners, NetApp emp...
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
Smart cities have the potential to change our lives at so many levels for citizens: less pollution, reduced parking obstacles, better health, education and more energy savings. Real-time data streaming and the Internet of Things (IoT) possess the power to turn this vision into a reality. However, most organizations today are building their data infrastructure to focus solely on addressing immediate business needs vs. a platform capable of quickly adapting emerging technologies to address future ...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann and Aruna Ravichandran have been named Co-Chairs of @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley which will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "DevOps is at the intersection of technology and business-optimizing tools, organizations and processes to bring measurable improvements in productivity and profitability," said Aruna Ravichandran, vice president, DevOps product and solutions marketing...
The dynamic nature of the cloud means that change is a constant when it comes to modern cloud-based infrastructure. Delivering modern applications to end users, therefore, is a constantly shifting challenge. Delivery automation helps IT Ops teams ensure that apps are providing an optimal end user experience over hybrid-cloud and multi-cloud environments, no matter what the current state of the infrastructure is. To employ a delivery automation strategy that reflects your business rules, making r...
As people view cloud as a preferred option to build IT systems, the size of the cloud-based system is getting bigger and more complex. As the system gets bigger, more people need to collaborate from design to management. As more people collaborate to create a bigger system, the need for a systematic approach to automate the process is required. Just as in software, cloud now needs DevOps. In this session, the audience can see how people can solve this issue with a visual model. Visual models ha...
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
Recently, REAN Cloud built a digital concierge for a North Carolina hospital that had observed that most patient call button questions were repetitive. In addition, the paper-based process used to measure patient health metrics was laborious, not in real-time and sometimes error-prone. In their session at 21st Cloud Expo, Sean Finnerty, Executive Director, Practice Lead, Health Care & Life Science at REAN Cloud, and Dr. S.P.T. Krishnan, Principal Architect at REAN Cloud, will discuss how they b...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of hybrid cloud enablement solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere Systems was created by file systems experts determined to reinvent storage by changing the way enterprises thought about and bought storage resources. With decades of experience behind the company’s founders, Avere got its ...
Containers are rapidly finding their way into enterprise data centers, but change is difficult. How do enterprises transform their architecture with technologies like containers without losing the reliable components of their current solutions? In his session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Tony Campbell, Director, Educational Services at CoreOS, will explore the challenges organizations are facing today as they move to containers and go over how Kubernetes applications can deploy with lega...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...
In the fast-paced advances and popularity in cloud technology, one of the most critical factors revolves around concerns for security of your critical data. How to assure both your company and your customers they can confidently trust and utilize your cloud environment is most often top on the list. There is a method to evaluating and providing security that exceeds conventional modes of protecting data both within the cloud as well externally on mobile and other devices. With the public failure...
Gemini is Yahoo’s native and search advertising platform. To ensure the quality of a complex distributed system that spans multiple products and components and across various desktop websites and mobile app and web experiences – both Yahoo owned and operated and third-party syndication (supply), with complex interaction with more than a billion users and numerous advertisers globally (demand) – it becomes imperative to automate a set of end-to-end tests 24x7 to detect bugs and regression. In th...
Today most companies are adopting or evaluating container technology - Docker in particular - to speed up application deployment, drive down cost, ease management and make application delivery more flexible overall. As with most new architectures, this dream takes significant work to become a reality. Even when you do get your application componentized enough and packaged properly, there are still challenges for DevOps teams to making the shift to continuous delivery and achieving that reducti...
Microsoft Azure Container Services can be used for container deployment in a variety of ways including support for Orchestrators like Kubernetes, Docker Swarm and Mesos. However, the abstraction for app development that support application self-healing, scaling and so on may not be at the right level. Helm and Draft makes this a lot easier. In this primarily demo-driven session at @DevOpsSummit at 21st Cloud Expo, Raghavan "Rags" Srinivas, a Cloud Solutions Architect/Evangelist at Microsoft, wi...