Gender roles still prevalent in online dating, study finds

Depressingly, appearing clever decreases a woman's chance of success when online dating

Rachel Hosie
Thursday 27 September 2018 14:49 BST
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Despite the success of dating apps such as Bumble - on which women are required to initiate conversation - traditional gender roles still dominate the world of online dating, according to new research.

A major new study carried out by the Oxford Internet Institute (OII) and eHarmony found that men are 30 per cent more likely than women to initiate conversation, and when a woman does send the first message, the response rate drops by 15 per cent.

The researchers, from Oxford University, analysed 150,000 profiles and over 10 years of eHarmony data, tracking changing preferences and communication patterns among single Brits.

The past decade has seen the rise of dating apps and the breakdown of any stigma surrounding looking for love online.

But despite this - and progress being made towards gender equality - the researchers found that the number of men initiating conversations online has actually increased, from six per cent in 2008 to 30 per cent in 2018.

Although on the whole singletons are less concerned with a prospective partner’s income or education level than 10 years earlier, these are still more important in the eyes of women.

The researchers also looked into what would make someone more likely to receive a message. They found men were more successful when they had more photos on their profiles, as well as if they were perceived to be athletic, agreeable and altruistic.

Similarly, women who appear athletic, romantic and altruistic are more likely to be messaged on dating apps.

However, seeming anxious or - somewhat depressingly - clever decreases a woman’s chance of success.

The study’s findings come at the same time as Tinder announced it is trialling a new feature in the app in India that will allow female users to decide whether or not they want to be the ones to start the conversation when they match with a man.

The feature, called “My Move”, gives women the option in their settings on the app to decide if they want to let either party send the first message or if they want to be the ones to take control.

Designed to make women feel more secure when using dating apps, it also essentially gives females the option of using Tinder like Bumble.

It’s possible the feature will later be rolled out across the globe, which may help to redefine gender roles.

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