Economist science of internet dating
We just buy one share of whatever company it is or we just buy one ton of soybeans or whatever it is.
But when we’re picking a life partner, everybody’s different. So in an ideal world, we would have the ability to search every single person out there and pick the ideal match.
Download this podcast SARAH GREEN: Welcome to the HBR Idea Cast. I’m talking today with Paul Oyer, Professor of Economics at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business. SARAH GREEN: So Paul, I’d like to just kick off by talking a little bit about the economic concept of search costs.
He’s the author of the book, Everything I Ever Needed to Know About Economics I Learned from Online Dating. Can you just maybe describe what the concept is and how you’ve applied it to this idea of looking for a life partner?
In general, widely considered positive traits, Dan Ariely, an economist who studies online dating, refers to traits where everyone prefers the same thing as examples of “vertical preferences,” as opposed to “horizontal preferences,” when people prefer those who are similar.
He also finds that horizontal preferences are more important in producing the “birds of a feather” effect.
And if I want to buy a new house and I go from open house to open house, I could be doing other things.
" like attractiveness or physical fitness, tend to follow the second pattern: Everyone prefers hotter, fitter people, but hot, fit people show a stronger preference for people like them.And so I started online dating, and immediately, as an economist, I saw this was a market like so many others.The parallels between the dating market and the labor market are so overwhelming, I couldn’t help but notice that there was so much economics going on in the process.Genius is taking a complex concept and relating it to an audience in such a way that they would understand it and remember it. It is also refreshing that Paul Oyer unabashedly uses his own experiences of online dating to teach us the basics of economics.The book does not just use online dating as a model, though.