Okay, this is Part 1 of the Big Study. But having a Part 1 of Part 3 seemed a bit ‘Hunger Games’ of me. Or even worse, ‘The Hobbit’.
In late March I committed myself to my largest data collection to date. I set my age parameters to 25-40 years, and my distance parameters to 50km. Over a few days I swiped through 200 profiles without discrimination, recording 13 data points on each profile. I managed to find one person worth matching with (and then quickly found myself bored when I realised I was asking all the questions), and once again questioned why I like men.
And then I stared at the data – for weeks. I plugged it in to visualisation apps. I attended an Excel Bootcamp, sure that if I just understood VLOOKUPS, or heard about a different chart type, I could get this data to tell the grand story I thought it must.
What I mainly discovered is that Excel really doesn’t like that part of my data is text (four data points are Y/N). So what I’m going to do is slowly tease out some insights. Maybe there isn’t one big story to tell, but there are some smaller ones. And they’re not necessarily the stories I thought I’d be telling (surely the most fun part of data analysis – when the data tells you something unexpected).
In my last Tinder Trends entry, I talked about the infamous bios. It got pretty macro, so in this case I only looked for a few data points. I wanted to tie it back to the idea that you should:
- Have something to say for yourself
- Know what you want and what you like
- …I didn’t concern myself too much with fuckwittage this time, but I did have one more bio feature I was curious about…
Height. I felt like it comes up a lot, and I sort of scoff every time I see it. For one, it’s only ever tall guys who list their height, which feels kind of like boasting. Also, I don’t think height’s a personality feature. During my data compilation, I ran a (very small) poll on Twitter to see if other people felt the way I do – that it’s probably not that important to know during the very early stages:
I didn’t get any in-depth responses, but I do wonder if the two women who responded with ‘Yes’ are of non-average height themselves, as I can understand the relevance if you yourself are very short or very tall. Just for avoiding potential neck strain issues.
So what did the data actually say?
This larger sample closed the gap a bit on the old ‘I will rely solely on my appearance’ brigade, with only 23% represented this time rather than 35% in the last sample.
Obviously, the following figures are from the remaining 77% who had something to say for themselves.
This chart doesn’t really represent the crossover of these three data points – I did some unnecessarily fancy Excel formula work to find there were 30 profiles that featured what they do, what they’re looking for, and height (i.e 15% of the total sample).
So, first observation: the height things isn’t really too widespread. It’s noticeable, but not exactly endemic. Can we even call ‘about 15%’ a trend? Look, if a girl has nicknamed you The Mountain and you’re not keen to go through that again (or….you’re really keen for that to happen again), chuck it in there. But just know it doesn’t make you better than anyone else.
People are better at expressing what they’re looking for in another person than discussing their own selling points, clearly. It’s still not a great amount, but it was pretty heartening to read people express what they’re on Tinder for, and mostly without being too prescriptive. Lots of men just wanted to meet some new people. I think that’s something that’s got to come from the heart. You know what doesn’t require an excess of soul-searching? A little of information about you. I treated jobs and interests equally under the ‘what I do’ section, because I think both give insight in to a person’s character in different ways. If you’re extremely passionate about your chosen career, please put that in your bio. If your job just pays the bills. but you live for mountain biking on the weekends, chuck that in instead! Either of those things gives the other person an opening for conversation, which is important.
You know I love analysing photos, as it was the subject of my first column, but I decided to look outside the animal kingdom this time. My subjects posted an average of 4.5 photos each, which meant I had a wealth of potential data points.
Note the scale on this one – no data point represented more than 20% of all photos. What I may pull out at some stage is the percentage of all profiles they represent, but I think this is something I want to explore more in the next part.
Travel photos are god. You’ve got to feel bad for the guy on Tinder who has never travelled overseas. How will we ever know where all the money has gone for the house deposit that will never be? I think travel is a common interest for a lot of people in the 25-40 age group, so it makes sense (real talk, I’m guilty of it myself in my own profile), and I also suspect there is simply the reality that we take more photos when we’re on holidays.
And, apparently, when we’re drinking in bars. It overwhelms the animal photos by far. It was extremely rare to find one these photos where the subject wasn’t red-faced and well on their way to inebriation. There’s a certain honesty to it, but it’s not putting your best foot forward.
And yes. There was two profiles where the person’s partner was clearly in their photo. One was explicit about their open relationship. One….was not.
My final point for this part was actually my greatest bugbear:
In only 52% of pictures could you see the subject’s face in full. What was happening in the other 48% of photos?
- Group photos – I saw profiles where every single photo was of a group, making the person whose profile it actually was indistinguishable.
- Sunglasses. Yes, I know you think you look hot in your sunglasses (it’s because they obscure part of your face). Once again, entire profiles could go by with only photos in sunglasses. Limit yourself to one only, and make sure your entire face is visible in another – preferably your main – photo.
- Photos taken from so far away they might as well have been taken on the international space station (strong crossover with travel photos here).
Have you ever felt a genuine connection with someone whose face you couldn’t see? ‘The eyes are the window to the soul’ is actually a phrase for a reason, and not just because some houses look like faces.
As I set my age parameters far wider in this sample than they would usually be, in my next set of analysis I’d like to see if I can tease out some age-related data. Are you more likely to know what you’re looking for when you’re approaching 40? Are the 25 year olds vastly over-represented in the gym selfie department? I actually have no idea, so let’s go on a journey of discovery together next time.