Extracting multistage screening rules from online dating activity data

Elizabeth Bruch, Fred Feinberg, Kee Yeun Lee

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper presents a statistical framework for harnessing online activity data to better understand how people make decisions. Building on insights from cognitive science and decision theory, we develop a discrete choice model that allows for exploratory behavior and multiple stages of decision making, with different rules enacted at each stage. Critically, the approach can identify if and when people invoke noncompensatory screeners that eliminate large swaths of alternatives from detailed consideration. The model is estimated using deidentified activity data on 1.1 million browsing and writing decisions observed on an online dating site. We find that mate seekers enact screeners ("deal breakers") that encode acceptability cutoffs. A nonparametric account of heterogeneity reveals that, even after controlling for a host of observable attributes, mate evaluation differs across decision stages as well as across identified groupings of men and women. Our statistical framework can be widely applied in analyzing large-scale data on multistage choices, which typify searches for "big ticket" items.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)10530-10535
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume113
Issue number38
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 20 Sep 2016

Keywords

  • Choice modeling
  • Computational social science
  • Mate selection
  • Noncompensatory behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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